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Home » ACMS Committees » Alasdair Crotach Committee » Clan MacLeod Woodlands  
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Progress report, June 2011

Rachel Jackson reports that the trees have been planted, and provides photos of some brave seedlings in her report, which can be downloaded by clicking here. This project continues to evolve, with plans for the Clan MacLeod Memorial Wall featured in efforts beginning in 2012. Please note that the opportunity to sponsor trees in the Woodland will continue to be open to worldwide Clan members during the rest of 2011. Please contact Rachael Jackson at JacRchl@aol.com for further details.

History of the Clan MacLeod Woodlands project

The paper below was written by Rachael Jackson in February 2011 as a way of introducing the Clan MacLeod Woodlands project, and noting possible ways in which the A/CMS might support it.  Suggestions of ways in which the project may be supported are speculative until formally voted on by the respective organizations.  However, any organization or individuals outside the Clan MacLeod are free to offer their own support by contacting Rachael directly at  jacrchl@aol.com.  You can follow the progress of the planting on Keith and Rachael's blog at http://keithandrachaeljackson.wordpress.com.

In 2007, when the Orbost Trust was looking to buy the Orbost Estate from Highlands and Islands Enterprise through the community land legislation, part of the Estate plan produced by the Trust was to include a project with the ACMS to establish a woodland area and construct a memorial wall with the Clan incorporating stones from all over the world where MacLeods now reside. Unfortunately the Orbost Trust was unable to purchase the Estate or find any transfer mechanism allowable within Scottish Legislation, so the proposed projects went no further.

In the interim years, Keith and Rachael Jackson pursued the lease on the Orbost Estate Farm in order to expand their business, and also with the aim to facilitate some of the projects that had been identified by the wider community in the Estate Plan. During this time they have continued to foster Rachael’s links with the Clan MacLeod through holding open Orbost days for parliament visitors, and also through discussions with Malcolm Macleod, the former President of the ACMS. The objective was to identify a way in which the Clan MacLeod Woodland and Memorial Wall project could progress.

The Jacksons took on the lease of Orbost Estate Farm for a tenancy duration of 15 years in December 2009. Part of their proposed business plan submitted to HIE included the aim ‘to identify and facilitate community projects and co-operation within the Estate and the wider Skye Community to contribute towards the goal of a vibrant successful community model. To work with residents and other interested parties to help make Orbost a desirable destination through innovative farming, educational development, community centred projects and sustainable commerce’. 

One such community project identified in the plan was to pursue the Clan MacLeod Woodland and Memorial Wall project  as it is ‘a development that would demonstrate a commitment to facilitating and welcoming a community from out with Skye who have ancestral ties to the Island’. Another project being currently facilitated and pursued is the establishment of an archaeological dig site and exhibition on farm ground, under the direction of local resident George Kozikowski.

During the 2010 parliament visit to Orbost (which was extremely wet!!!) a display board was erected showing the proposed woodland and explaining the biodiversity plan for the Estate Farm. Rachael was going to do a presentation about these plans, and talk about the possibility of creative partnerships with the Clan Societies, but the weather on the day made this unviable.   

Present

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The Jacksons successfully applied to the Scottish Rural Development Program to enter into a farm biodiversity scheme, which will involve a moorland management plan to conservation graze the hill ground with native species, to benefit the varied and valuable wildlife on the Estate.

As part of the Biodiversity Action Plan for the farm, they plan to plant 2.5Ha of rowan and birch woodland at the entrance to the Estate. The woodland is going to be planted in an area which has a remnant gorge woodland, and will re-establish a historic habitat corridor for the wildlife, in particular increasing the sustainability of the hen harriers which live at the far end of the Estate.

The Jacksons plan to name the woodland area ‘The Clan MacLeod Woodland’, and also to work with Clan Members in achieving the goal of constructing the Memorial Wall within the woodland confines.  The work to start mounding and fencing for the woodland area is to start this week, with a view to planting the trees in early March.

Plan of Action

The Jacksons wish to offer to worldwide Clan MacLeod members the opportunity to sponsor the establishment and maintenance of the 3200 trees that are to be planted in the Woodland. Tree sponsorship will be at a rate of £3 per tree, and Clan Members will have the choice of how many or how few trees they wish to sponsor.  Eg. 5 trees would be £15, 50 trees would be £150.  This gives the members the opportunity to contribute as much or as little as they wish.

The proposal as stands is that interested donators would email Rachael with their details, and she would send by return details of the woodland project (map and blurb) and a paypal account address for donations. Following receipt, an email confirming their sponsorship.

The timescale for donations is quite tight as the woodland needs to be planted in early March, so the sponsorship window would be open from now until 1st May. The Jacksons will require assistance from the Clan Societies to broadcast the project and opportunity to as wide a membership of the Clan Societies as possible, perhaps through an email newsletter alert or the like. [Update June: Sponsorship will be open to MacLeods until the end of 2011.]

Memorial Wall

The timescale for planning and building the memorial wall is much more fluid, however it would be great to have it ready for an official dedication/opening during the next parliament. The Jacksons would encourage a dialogue between themselves and the various Clan Societies on this aspect of the project. We are keen to see the wall incorporating stones from all corners of MacLeod inhabitation world wide. This will take some co-ordination, but ultimately result in a very special wall with significant meaning for MacLeods present and past.

Conclusion

Rachael and Keith feel very strongly about being able to facilitate the establishment of a lasting Clan MacLeod feature on Skye that is relevant, accessible and meaningful to modern day clansfolk. After all, if it wasn’t for the Clan MacLeod and her attendance at parliament, Rachael would never have ended up on Skye! Although their lease on Orbost farm is at present for only 15 years, by this time the Clan MacLeod woodland will be well established and a permanent feature on Orbost Estate. They sincerely hope that the Clan Societies will agree that this is a great opportunity for direct involvement by Clan members, and look forward to working with the Clan in this project.