Who are we?

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust (FHT) is a charity (SC045806) set up as a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation) in July 2015 and as such has a formal constitution and is regulated by OSCR (Office of Scottish Charities Register) for which it produces FHT Trustees Report and Financial Statements 2022.

The Trust has picked up and is developing the work of the now dissolved Findhorn Hinterland Group, an unincorporated community group who worked productively for ten years to bring together local land and people for the benefit of both. The FHT has a two-tier structure of up to twelve trustees, many of whom represent local landowners and organisations, and a growing membership of over 170 local people interested in the land and who are willing to get involved in the work of the organisation. The various areas of the trust’s present work and the roles taken on by trustees can be seeen on the mindmap of trustee roles with more detail and explanation given in the associated trustees’ roles notes.

As of December 2019 members pay a £10 minimum annual joining fee and have their personal information held according to the Trust’s Privacy Policy.

What are our purposes?

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust does not own land but works with landowners and other stakeholders in the local area to help integrate land management and involve the local community.

Its specific purposes, related to land in the Findhorn area, are to:

  • Promote environmental protection and improvement.
  • Educate the local community and wider public in relation to the outdoor and environmental opportunities local habitats and environs provide.
  • Encourage community development through offering activities related to the land and by promoting cooperation and collaboration amongst owners and stakeholders.
  • Providing recreational facilities and activities with the object of improving the conditions of life for local people and others in West Moray and beyond.

What do we do?

There are at present a wide variety of activities related to the Trust’s four main purposes that are carried out by the FHT and its members:

Conservation.  This involves on the ground activities such as scrub clearance on nationally important lichen beds, tree planting and care on other parts of the land, encouraging conservation grazing of ponies, new pond maintenance and bird box erection as well as activities such as promoting integrated land management with landowners and bringing people’s attention to important documents such as the Findhorn Dunes Trust Lichen Survey, FHT Baseline Fungal Survey Nov 2020, Findhorn Hinterland bryophyte survey Oct 2020, Mosses Findhorn and the Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2020-2025. Refer to additional LBAP documents to view Appendices 1-4 and Appendix 5.

Education. The FHT encourages groups ranging from school groups of all ages, adults with learning difficulties, courses held by the Findhorn Foundation etc to use the land for different educational purposes.  It also has a small apiary and hands-on learning of the art of beekeeping is offered.  A demonstration Edible Woodland Garden has been developed and members regularly meet to look after this and have a social time. Regular talks and public events are put on to promote different aspects of the Charities educational work.

Providing Recreational Activities. The Trust maintains and develops paths for access in the woods and to and from the dunes, provides informative weekly walking tours, and offers a booking system and guides for the responsible use of  the woodland shelter,  fire areas and small group camping areas.  It also works with the Moravian Orienteers to help make sure that the land can be used for this sport with little impact on the land’s important features.  Two ponies continue to use the land on a regular basis.

Community Building. Public consultation, attending events such as those of the Community Woodland Association, providing opportunities for people to meet through monthly work parties on the land and weekly gatherings in the Edible Woodland Garden, gatherings for special events such as the celebration around becoming a charity and a Christmas gathering where people come to collect trees and share time around a fire all provide opportunities to build local community.

The small green burial ground in the middle of the wood and run by the Findhorn Hinterland Trust, is a local community resource that helps fund much of its charitable work as well as helping bring people together and enriching and conserving the land that it operates on.

How is the Land Managed?

red squirrelManagement of the land in the Findhorn area that the trust has jurisdiction over is carried out by having long-term agreements with the landowners which state that management will take place according to an agreed five-year management plan. The present plan, Findhorn Hinterland Trust Management Plan 2019-23 was produced after getting a clear vision and mandate from the general public and other stakeholders through a public consultation process funded by a Heritage Lottery Start Up Grant that took place in the spring of 2016. It involved a Drop-in-Day, hands on Woodland Festival and various surveys. This resulted in an Official Public Consultation Report 2016 entitled Findhorn Hinterland Developing a Vision for Action.

We manage four types of land: open sand/shingle/dune heath, dune grassland, dune scrub, and woodland

Much of the FHT managed area comprises old sand dunes covered by gorse. Within the dense gorse are some excellent examples of rare lichen-rich sand/shingle and dune heath habitats, covering around 4 hectares in total. Sand and shingle habitats are either unvegetated, or with a crust of lichens, and dune heath is characterised by a light cover of heather. Sand, shingle and heath grade-into each other, forming an intimate habitat mosaic in the open areas between gorse stands.

These open habitats are the highest biodiversity priority, supporting a host of rare lichens, insects, and fungi – some of which are found only a handful of sites in Scotland. The dunes are of national importance for lichens, and are the most important site in Scotland for the moth Scythris empetrella.

Unfortunately, these open sand dune habitats, which depend on mobile sand, are being lost to gorse and tree encroachment. While the landscape of gorse and young trees may look wild and natural, scrub growth is actually the result of reduced wind speed, caused by the historic construction of houses and planting of woodland. The resultant wind-sheltering effect has allowed gorse to spread, further restricting the natural flow of the wind. Pine trees, sprouting from seeds blown from adjoining plantation woodland have added to the problem.

Over recent years we have been carefully clearing gorse and small trees from around priority lichen-rich areas of sand/shingle and dune heath. Much of this work has been done by volunteer work parties, using hand tools.

Our vision is of a healthier mix of sand dune habitats overall, a re-invigorated ecosystem which is more self-sustaining. We are planning to open-up carefully selected areas of gorse to the natural process of wind-blown sand, using best practice techniques in sand dune restoration. This work is not possible using hand tools. Machinery will be needed to create new areas of bare sand and to transform dense gorse stands into dune heath and species-rich grassland, which are of much greater biodiversity value than gorse scrub.

Dune grassland, around the wind turbines and along firebreaks and paths, is particularly valuable for insects. Natural grassland is now a rare habitat – 97% of species-rich grasslands have been lost in the last 80 years or so. We have created sheltered glades in the gorse by the turbines, and maintain these for butterflies and other insects. Pony grazing helps to maintain open grassy areas with a diverse vegetation structure.

Wilkies Wood (c.10ha) is a highly-valued community resource, and also provides a sustainable supply of local firewood. The woodland supports a small population of red squirrels, the nationally scarce creeping lady’s tresses (a type of orchid), and a rare fungus which grows on its leaves. The woodland has been completely transformed since the Trust took over its management, from a neglected stunted plantation, to a diverse, vibrant, natural woodland habitat. This has been achieved through careful thinning and planting, increasing the availability of standing and fallen deadwood, and creating two small ponds.

Where do we operate?  See Map.

Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB