Formed in 1999, the Birse Community Trust (BCT) is a local community business that was set up, "to promote the common good of the inhabitants of Birse parish and deliver wider public benefits". The Trust is a Limited Company, Scottish Charity and government approved Local Rural Partnership and is located in Mid Deeside. It includes the three local communities of Finzean, Ballogie, Birse as well as the largely uninhabited Forest of Birse. The area has a population of nearly 700 that is made up of approximately 260 households. Within the area, there are already three Community Associations and two Community Councils and over 15% of households are represented on the various committees.
The Trust was set up to increase the ability of the three communities (Finzean, Ballogie and Birse) to tackle local issues on behalf of the community.
In developing and implementing projects as community businesses, the Trust is guided by the issues identified by the Community Associations and works in partnership with them on its projects.
BCT's first task on behalf of the community was to safeguard ancient shared rights over the 3,500 ha Forest of Birse Commonty and to ensure the sustainable management of the native pinewoods there.
Following from that, BCT has taken on a range of other woodland related projects in the parish - three water-powered wood mills, joint management of two Forestry Commission woodlands, and the management of Community Woods and a School Wood.
More recently, BCT's projects are becoming increasingly diverse as the Trust tackles a growing range of local social, economic and environmental issues. These include the redevelopment of a traditional Bucket-making factory and a small, managed workspace facility. Through these initiatives, the Trust has been able to support the livelihoods of up to 10 self-employed local people.
Currently, the Trust is in discussions with the Scottish Executive over the possibility of providing timber for the new Scottish Parliament building.
The success of the Trust has resulted in commendations from Forest Enterprise and Scottish Natural Heritage and 'their innovative and successful approach to community business' is being used as a model for rural communities elsewhere in Scotland. This success also resulted in the Trust winning the Community Business Prize in the Scottish Community of the Year Awards.
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