FHT 2023-24 Pictorial Finance Summary

Sometimes looking at figures visually can be fun and revealing which is what David Hammond FHT Treasurer with the help of Trustee and Bookkeeper Christopher Raymont have done here by putting together simplified figures from 2023-24 data on the trust’s income and expenditure.  What are some of the observations that we can draw from this way of presenting the figures?

  • The first that I notice is that I am thankful that we as an organisation are presently living within our financial means  with income very slightly above expenditure for the year. I realise that this is only made possible by the generous support of our members, donors and grant givers and the willingness of the team and community to give of their time and skill to support our good land based work.  Let’s be thankful for this community support and celebrate this achievement!

Looking now specifically at the income  and expenditure pie charts, here are some other things I note:


  • One of our strengths as an organisation is that we have a variety of income sources that in most years roughly cover our annual operating expenses so we are not dependent on generating grant income to do this. Securing grants for operating expenses is often difficult so this is definitely a plus.
  • Income is hugely dependent on green burial income (33% for the year in question) which varies from year to year.  This variance is illustrated by looking at the green burial income that has come in over the last two months of April and May 2024 which has been £7,955  compared with £11,350 for the whole of last year!  Are we headed for a bumper gb income year?
  • Of great importance though is the income from paid membership and donations as together they roughly brought in the same income (30%) as the green burials but do not fluctuate as much from year to year so giving a more stable income that helps when putting together our annual budget.  Members, your contribution is really valued and counts!  Thank you and do encourage a few more people to join and help contribute and connect in this way.
  • We can see that there is plenty of potential to increase the income from grants and also retreats and workshops.  Our policy is to only depend on grant income for new projects not for general trust maintenance costs.


  • Much of what we spend money on goes to pay for support people (63%) like our Land Manager, bookkeeper, green burial team members, minute taker, marketing person and our ecologist involved in the Dune Restoration Project this year.  They are all essential to the smooth running of the organisation.  The FHT is proud to be able to create some local employment out of what it does and be able to pay above the real living wage to those that do essential paid work for us.  That said, I have also noticed that those involved often generously give back by volunteering some of their extra time. Good to see both sides in this mutually giving and supportive relationship.
  • The greatest expenditure is on our half time Land Manager employee (37%) who is out there for part of every week day making sure the basic work of the trust is covered.  Appreciation goes to this often unseen steady hand who also, like others already mentioned, contributes voluntarily beyond his paid working time.

No doubt there are other gems of wisdom that can be gleaned from this basic information but I will leave it to you to explore and find them for yourself.  If you have any questions around this work and the FHT finances in general , do not hesitate to get in touch.

Jonathan Caddy (Chair)
David Hammond (Treasurer)
Christopher Raymont (Trustee and Bookkeeper)
June 2024


Posted in News

My Story as a FHT Volunteer

My name is Mitch and I am a 23 year old young man from the Lake District who has been living in the FHT Shepherd’s Hut and volunteering for the charity for the last two months. I would like to share with you a little of my positive journey over the last couple of months.

How I ended up here is quite an interesting story.  I had no intention of coming here  and getting involved in the work of the trust and knew nothing about this community before I arrived here.  How I got here actually involved a tube of toothpaste!  I was working for the army base down the road at Kinloss and was looking on my phone to try to find out where I might get a non-fluoride toothpaste and came up with the Phoenix Shop here at the Park.  Afterwards I took a little walk around the place and into the woods where I happened to meet and start talking with Luna, the previous FHT volunteer.  She told me about her work and that started to bring up a lot of questions inside me.  I went away and thought about it for the next five months or so and I just couldn’t let it go and ignore the fact that the place was just up the road – it felt like the right place to be within my heart so after a lot of thought I left my job.  It aligned with the time I needed to move on and I felt that I couldn’t go back down to England before spending some time here.

Two months on it has been everything I hoped it would be and more.  The interaction with nature has been a highlight.  Living in nature, living in the forest a hundred metres away from the sand dunes and heathland makes you appreciate the little things – you start to live in their world and begin noticing strange little things happening in the earth and around you.  For example the other day I saw ten magpies in one tree playing around and dancing and this morning I woke up and there was a red squirrel two metres to my left watching me eating my porridge!  People ask me if it is difficult living in the Shepherd’s Hut as they see that I don’t have very much – no electricity and only a small gas stove and wood fired heating stove.  They say it must get quite cold  and I say look I may not have much but I feel that I have everything.  I feel my eyes have  been opened to what the world actually holds.  You don’t need to have much as so much is already here and has been given to us.

Physically what I have been doing has been connected to this season.  There has been a lot of gorse that has needed to be cut back which is a repetitive task but I have found that the task can be a meditative way to work rather like when I am running – I find I can think whilst I am doing.  A lot of the work here I have found has enabled me to think and be introspective.  Kajedo Wanderer, the FHT Land Manager who I have been working with, is good at externalising these thoughts.  For example with working cutting back gorse he has got be to ask the question, “What do these actions represent within you?” He starts to help me think about the prickly things in our life and inside us which can over grow and block out the small things that are intricate and don’t often have a lot of fight.  What does it represent cutting back those prickly things in you?

I have also been working with Jonathan Caddy and others which has been practically and mentally stimulating involving creating and working as an individual in a team to build beautiful products such as the chunky wooden benches and even the platform to lay the body on for a funeral that we did the other week.  It is all just good – I am not doing it for myself or to make money but doing it for the good of the people and the planet.  I am finding what you put out comes back to you.  I think people are beautiful around here – I find them whole, genuine people being open and willing to speak and to have interesting, intellectual, spiritual conversations about really meaningful topics which I have not necessarily felt elsewhere in a 9 to 5 job.  This has been something that I feel I really need to do again.

Being brought up in the Lake District I had access to the wild from the towns and villages that I come from.  When I was little I pushed the nature aside that was around me – I wanted to be inside playing games and whatnot.  As I got older I realised how important nature is.  I used to intellectually understand why people would love horses or why people would love flowers but I didn’t really feel this myself.  It has been only by giving something and fully interacting with nature that that has definitely changed.  For example I came across the three  horses kept on the land in the pony field the other day.  It gave me joy witnessing them watching me as I watched them, patting them and looking at the flowers.  I now find myself all inquisitive and asking questions about the nature around me: “What is this flower?  How did its seeds get here?”  A new world has opened up to me in which my eyes have been opened and I can see more.

I have had this experience between jobs.  Unfortunately I am moving on to find a new job in a new sector.  Sales in an entrepreneurial world is what I am looking at but I am going to take lessons from here with me particularly from Kajedo and see how I can apply them in the entrepreneurial and corporate landscape.  Hopefully I can bring good to that area of the world as I am aware that there are a lot of corrupt minds, narcissism and selfishness in that world and I am hoping to spread love throughout it.  When I start my own business, right at the beginning I want to have my new employees come here and experience some of the life changing magic I have experienced.

Mitch Tarbit
FHT Long Term Volunteer
March to May 2024

Posted in News

Chair’s Report – Spring/Summer 2024

It has been another whirlwind spring season as far as the Findhorn Hinterland Trust and the various activities on the land go.  

The ‘When the Bough Breaks’ film, which starred our trustee Alan Watson Featherstone and the rewilding work he was previously involved in with Trees for Life, took place on the 16th March in the Universal Hall and was well attended and received  It led nicely into a public presentation on our very own rewilding project, the Dune Restoration presentations by Alan, Heather, Sean and I the very next day with a follow up walk and talk on the dunes for some. 


This was part of raising awareness locally about this major and important project and allowed us to promote the BigGive Green Match Funding campaign which took place from the 18th to 25th April.  This was very successful and a huge thanks goes to the BigGive organisation for selecting our project and everyone who contributed; we raised over our £10,000 goal plus an additional £1000 being donated through John Clausen and the Hygeia Foundation in the USA.  This will be used to pay for work done on the ground during this next winter.  We were also fortunate to secure further funding  of £3250 through TSI Moray and the CAN (Climate Action Network) that helped pay for project set up work; the film, the public presentations, an unexploded ordnance report essential as part of our risk assessment measures, project development by Sean, marketing by Birgit and help with monitoring the project through another ecologist James Bunyan.  James visited us in April and we are excited about him looking at some cutting edge monitoring of our project using drones.  

Another exciting and connected development has been the securing of a £3,500 grant through the Newbold Legacy Trust which will help fund a three year partnership with Forres Academy to build awareness and involve pupils in our biodiversity and nature awareness project work; the school already spends a day here with around 50-60 pupils carrying out their Biology fieldwork work in the summer term and we expect them again on the 18th June.  This is a major step forward in fulfilling our educational purpose as a charity and watch this space to find out how this partnership develops.

Birgit Carow, who does the marketing for our charity, put together the splendid FHT Educational Programme for this year and her colourful and appealing posters can be seen dotted around and some online marketing has taken place.  Despite not yet having a working community website to advertise through, all three day workshops so far, Sharing Nature, Sacred Ways and the one on Biodiversity, have gone ahead.  It is great to see local people taking advantage of the educational expertise and knowledge offered by our exceptional and talented local experts. We are offering two week long retreats/workshops in the next months which are still to fill so please do spread the word and encourage those you know who might wish to come and benefit from these.  


Other areas of the trust’s work are ticking along nicely. After very few green burials last year there have been a number already this year including the moving funeral and memorial service for long term and much loved community member Duerten Lau.  There were several hundred people present at the Wilkies Wood green burial site to send our dear friend off.  Duerten did much to help develop the community at the Park Ecovillage Findhorn including for a period being the Chair of the Findhorn Hinterland Group the precursor of the FHT charity.  We now have 58 bodies buried at the site and 62 reserved lairs with 3 burials and 2 more reserved since April of this year.  The site is still used for community events which included this year’s May Day Celebration organised by Draeyk and complete with May pole dancing and a small play. This event was part of a one day visit by a group of keen and enthusiastic teens from an alternative school in New Jersey that were visiting the land and theEcovillage as part of their studies through an organisation called Travel for Teens.  It was a privilege to host these change makers of the future who showed great interest in our work.

It has been good to see the sun and feel some warmth in May as April was unusually cold and rainy.  For this reason our bees had to be fed with fondant all through the month of April to keep them alive and we are glad to say that nine out of our ten hives are now thriving with two extra artificial swarms already having been set up and a large swarm having been housed.  Unfortunately both the other bee team stalwarts, John Willoner and Martin Harker, have had health challenges which has left me holding the fort.  Thanks to Amanda and Goran for some help but please do contact me if you are interested in offering help or even being part of our core team in the future.  No bee experience – come along to our two day bee workshop on the 22nd and 23rd of June!  You will love it and learn a lot.


Another creative endeavour that will lead to a Chunky Bench Making Workshop in September has been the creation of two lovely rustic benches sponsored by FHT member Helen Kalis which are now installed on the high dune ridge above the North Whins site at the Park.  Woodworker Steven Porter has been volunteering has time and skill to make this all happen.  Do take the time to wander up and enjoy the benches and the view and have a look at Steven’s article elsewhere in this newsletter. 

Great to finally see the new sanctuary project moving again with the foundations now in and we are looking forward to getting the logs down to the Conservation Hub for their final preparation and to have the joints constructed under tarps by talented woodworker Henry Fosbrooke.  Help with the log scraping will be needed and grading and helping with the transport of the sawn timber we milled from wind blown wood will be much appreciated. 

Change is a constant in the world, our community and the Findhorn Hinterland Trust.  The charity has been planning how it can be more sustainable and resilient as an organisation so that its good work can be carried on for a hundred years and beyond. How will this be done especially as I step down as Chair January 1st 2026 and others in their roles just now will need to be replaced over time?  To help us consciously take the next steps we secured some consultation time with Just Enterprise, a government organisation that helps the charity and community enterprise sector. This involved them finding out about our charity, exploring the thoughts of the core team through a questionnaire and gathering us together for a meeting at Cullerne House to carry out a SWOT analysis and look together at our next steps.  (See their detailed report elsewhere).  The main change will be from an organisational structure where I as an individual maintain links to one where even more of a team structure is put in place where the organisation is effectively held by the group.  For this reason we are very open to new trustees and team members and as part of this change welcome Talitha Ross as our new FHT Secretary who will be replacing Judith Bone after many years of service. Vivienne Wylde has also stepped down as our Membership Secretary and although Arun has offered to hold this position for now, we are on the lookout for a younger person to grow into the position. Might that be you?         

Jonathan Caddy
FHT Chair
May 2024

Posted in News

News from the Land – Spring Early Summer 2024

It’s a damp day out there – so perfect for spending some time writing for our Newsletter…

The trees we planted on the land last autumn and this spring are celebrating the life-giving rain after the warm sunny weeks we’ve just had.

The transformation out there at this time of the year always blows me away.

From the barrenness of winter to this lush abundance of fresh green leaves, flowers, blossoms and new shoots on trees… During the last dry days there were clouds of yellow pollen from the pines wafting through the woods, and the ocean of the bright yellow blossoms of the gorse between here and the sea smelled deliciously of coconut !

And we’ve got to enjoy that every day as we’ve been busy these last weeks with hand-cutting gorse…loppers and hand saws and the noisy brush- cutter… cutting back the regrowth of gorse back on firebreaks, on the heathlands and the grasslands in our care. The all important maintenance of precious habitats. And – we also did little improvements on each of those areas (extending them a bit, where it made sense).  Prickly issues… we got scratched & prickled plenty as we worked in shorts and sleeveless T-shirts.

As always I challenge myself and our volunteers to find the ‘inner equivalent’ to the work we were doing out there… So that our outer work becomes a physical ritual for what we need to do inside of ourselves. Hence the question – what are we doing with ‘prickly issues’ in our lives ? 

Of course we also did other things these last weeks & months. The mixture of sunshine and rain is perfect growing weather and our baby trees are all of the sudden sticking their heads out of their little spiral tubes. We need to beat the deer to get to them and put them into taller tubes to put the tips out of reach of our four legged friends. We staked and tubed around 150 trees !

So – how are we protecting the fragile, delicate and vulnerable things in our lives ? Within ourselves, and within our communities and societies ?

We are part of nature, and our inner nature and nature around us are deeply interconnected. As we become increasingly conscious of this connection, it is easy to turn our work into authentic  ‘worship’ –  sacred rituals honoring all life.

‘Rewilding the soul’ – a week-long camping retreat we’ve planned for July – aims to explore the question of what we can learn from ‘rewilding’ nature around us for the process of remembering and embodying our own true ‘wild’ nature ?

“Buddha nature’ some would say…

Enlightened nature…

Or to quote Eileen Caddy – ‘The Christ within’…

And finally an extract from a well known poem by Thich Nhat Hanh :

“…Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone…

Please call me by my true names,
so i can wake up,
and the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.”

Kajedo Wanderer
Land Manager of the FHT


Posted in News

Findhorn Hinterland Biodiversity Workshop

This one day workshop was held on the 1st June 2024 with 10 participants attending including Hugh Andrews who submitted this article.  There was much praise by all for this event – so much so that they wanted to encourage others to make a note and join when it is offered again!  JC

What a wonderful day that was. To be shown around the Findhorn Hinterland by Alan Watson Featherstone and Heather Paul. Two true experts in their fields of biodiversity and lichens, who for the decade and more have poured their love and passion into the land, studying the amazing array of different species of  plants and animals that live here. Their particular love is for the micro worlds of invertebrates, lichens and fungi, that most of us walk past without a glance. Our day was a real treat opening us up to these hidden gems. There are literally hundreds of different species of bugs, beetles, spiders, aphids and other insects here, along with hundreds of different lichens, fungi and slime moulds that have so far been recorded here, some of which are extremely rare. 

The day started off with a general discussion of the Hinterland Trust’s work and aims in maintaining and enhancing the existing four main habitats that are found here – woodland, species rich grassland, heathland and dune scrub. Each area has very distinct and different species associated with it. We were given a small hand lens with a x10 magnification, needed to open us up to the “Alice in Wonderland” world of the micro. Splitting us up into two small groups we went off on our adventure into this new world, one half going with Alan and the other with Heather. This allowed an intimacy where we could really study in detail the features that were being pointed out. 

Alan took us for a journey through the trees, showing how small pockets of the original pine plantation have been opened up and new native broadleaves introduced. These greatly enhance the variety of creatures that now live here, pointing out shield bugs, and spiders living in the leaves, along with the leaf miners living in the leaves. Picking an old pine cone from a tree, Alan tapped it into his palm to show us  the pine seeds. But instead of seeds falling out, spiders, mites and aphids appeared, showing how a cone was a complete habitat in its own right.

Then it was Heather’s turn to enrapture us, as we peered into the world of lichens. What amazing patterns and colours leapt out at us as we studied a pebble or piece of bark through our hand lens. She shared how some of the species, particularly those on the sand and heathland here are extremely rare. One of the main aims of the Hinterland Trust is to try and support these species, and the only way to do that is by removing trees and gorse that are rapidly moving into the dune area. Removing trees can seem at odds with nature conservation, but in this case it is vitally necessary if the overall biodiversity is to be maintained. 

So we returned to base with big smiles on our faces, nurtured by a glorious day of sunshine, knowledge, beauty and friendship, and now looking forward to each buying our own hand lens, so we can continue to explore this magical world that is literally under our feet and all around us.


Hugh Andrews
FHT Member
 June 2024

Posted in News

Meet the Team – Alan Watson Featherstone.

How did you get so involved in nature and nature conservation?

Alan Watson Featherstone FHTI have had a long history of developing a deep relationship with nature which I think really started in a serious way back when I travelled abroad. In 1972 when I was 18 I travelled in Europe and the following year I went to Canada where I spent time in Western Canada connecting with the Rocky Mountains, big forests and healthy landscapes full of species.  That really touched me deeply.  When I left university I decided to explore nature more and went back to Canada to live for a couple of years before travelling the whole length of South America including the Amazon, the Andes, Tierra del Fuego – you name it and I was there!  That really opened my heart and was my preparation for coming to Findhorn.  

I came here through finding the Findhorn Garden Book in the most unlikely place of downtown New York in the heart of the urban jungle!  I was really touched by the connection with the spirit of nature, particularly Dorothy Maclean’s work which really resonated with me. When I came to the community I lived at Cluny for many years where I started in the kitchen and then very quickly moved into the garden where I worked for four years.  In the garden I  learned that I could give back my care, my love and my attention to nature to help make it flourish, not just taking from it what I could receive and appreciate. 

In 1979 I started to go out to Glen Affric in the Highlands of Scotland which was like a tiny bit of Canada here in Scotland.  I began to visit there regularly and soon I started to feel the pain of the dying forests- I felt the trees were calling out for help.  I was also inspired by visits here from Richard St Barbe Baker the Man of the Trees and other people like that who visited the community.  These experiences led me to found Trees for Life which became the main chunk of my life’s work involving the restoration of the Caledonian Forest for 31 years.

Whilst  carrying out  lots of surveys, studies and identifying species in the forest I developed a great interest in biodiversity so when I got involved in the Findhorn Hinterland Trust I was able to bring that knowledge, background and care for natural ecosystems with me to my backyard where I live.  My work now doesn’t involve long journeys and I can come here very quickly.  I see an opportunity to help this land become more natural, more diverse and more abundant because when we inherited it, it was mostly an old pine plantation, bits of the former air force base and gorse scrub.  There is  a lot more diversity returning now through the work of FHT.


Tell us a little bit more about your work with the Findhorn Hinterland Trust

Alan beside the base of a rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia) that grew over an old stump which has rotted away, Birchfield, November 2021My involvement is on two levels. One is that I am a trustee of the trust with the specific job title of Land Trustee.  In that role I chair the Land Management subgroup which has an overview of the practical work on the land.  The other is more specific – I have a strong interest in identifying the biodiversity that is here so I also do a lot of photography on the site and have commissioned, through the auspices of the trust, various biodiversity surveys.  The latter has over the years involved inviting specialists to come to look at things like moths, spiders, true bugs and many other groups of organisms that inhabit this land.  I am aware that there is still quite a list of different organisms to work through until we get a full picture of what is here.


How has this work helped with the recently set up Dune Restoration Project?

The biodiversity surveys that have been happening over the last few years have given us some very useful data that can be used to help promote and justify this project. For example we have found some rare fungi out there as well as other organisms such as special lichens.  There are several of us that have a strong interest in biodiversity and we have a biodiversity day on the 1st of June coming up where we have people joining us with whom we hopefully will share our knowledge, experience and wisdom.


What is the future work of the trust?  What is your vision?

For me I think the vision has two main parts to it.  The first is to bring the land back to a state of greater health and diversity.  That is a long term project because we have these old pine plantations some of which we are gradually naturalising.  That is going to go on for at least a few decades and will enrich the habitat with a greater diversity of species.  Then there is making sure that it is protected such as with the Dune Restoration Project which will help make sure the encroachment of gorse is halted and the rare dune habitat safeguarded. 

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) on the branch of a Scots pine tree (Pinus sylvestris), Findhorn HinterlandThe other main aspect of it is about education – being an example to people, a source of knowledge, information and inspiration for both local people who live here, many of whom may not know so much about the area, and also for visitors that come be they on programmes that we run, school groups and others.  We have the potential to establish a real solid pool of knowledge and depth of understanding that we can share with other people.  That to me is really essential because that understanding is what the world needs now as we move into this time of rapid transition and major change on the planet.  We have to reconnect with nature, understand our connectedness and the necessity of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems for the survival, not just of humans, but all life on the planet.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would just like to say for people reading this newsletter, to come and see for yourself, get in touch with us and come and visit the Hinterland.  We can give you a tour or share some special things with you in one of our workshops or you can participate in our fun and rewarding work parties.

Interviewed by
Jonathan Caddy
FHT Chair
May 2024


Posted in News

Playing Creatively with Wood

It’s a short walk from the Conservation Hub up to the dunes on the way into Findhorn Village. That short walk can draw out when you slow down to notice the insects humming and the birds darting for cover past Rowan and Birch into the gorse. At the top of the dune the gorse is a sea of brilliant yellow with views out over the bay. Helen Kalis thought this was the spot to sit and rest and appreciate the surroundings and some benches would be a welcome addition to the trail – we agreed and had the right material for the job, with the wind fallen pine from Wilkies wood, which had been milled on site.

A few weeks earlier I had made contact with Jonathan and the Hinterland Trust about coming to help out, I had recently moved to Muir of Ord and was looking to connect and get involved in meaningful work. I’d followed the work at Findhorn Foundation for many years from afar so now that I lived closer I was keen to get involved. Jonathan being the open person he is, was happy to meet and see how things could fit together and be of mutual benefit. Helen’s bench commission came at a perfect time and given my previous experience as a cabinet maker in Northumberland seemed a perfect fit.


The idea was to make at least two simple rustic benches along the trail using the natural curves of the wood to form our benches. We started by rummaging through the wood store to find appropriate pieces, looking for interesting shapes, anything that would intuitively fit together. It was a refreshing way to work with the material still in a raw state, with all its imperfections and character, not the increasingly unrecognisable processed and standardised product of industry. At the time I was working with manufacturing windows and doors at a joinery shop in Inverness. The end of each week couldn’t come soon enough, then feeling free to work creatively, in a built environment in harmony with its surroundings, much more nourishing for the soul.

A few sketches and a template later we had our basic design, informed by the unique qualities in the wood we had picked out. This stage also included a lot of sitting to find that sweet recline spot for our benches. With Jonathan’s chainsaw skills and the help of long term volunteer George Paul, Louna and later Mitch we cut and notched the wood and prepared logs to form the feet of the bench. Extra shaping was carried out with a drawknife, a deeply satisfying experience if you haven’t tried it before! The nature of working with chunky wood encourages play as you can’t really make any mistakes, any gouge or undesired edge can easily be whittled away. The wood was planed and sanded back to bring out the grain which was deepened once we added an oil finish, the familiar smell of wood and oil drawing favourable comments from the curious passer-by keen to find out what we were making.

Once we had our finished bench components the trailer was filled and we trundled uphill to the site. Fence posts were hammered into the ground to provide strength and the ground was prepared, a bed of soil and bark and each foot sitting on found stone and brick. The benches now had a home and the final few screws brought everything together, they were now sturdy and ready for all the Summer ahead. I’ll look forward to seeing the benches age, the colours softened by sun, wind, rain and the edges worn smooth like an old stile – something that only comes with time. If you haven’t been up that way recently I encourage you to follow the trail, take time to sit and look out at the sea and it’s perfect blue.

We are running a weekend workshop on the 7th – 8th September for those of you interested in learning new skills and trying your hand at working with wood. Rustic, creative and rewarding! Follow the link for more details and to book on the course. Hope to see you there!


Steven Porter
Woodworker and FHT Member
June 2024

Posted in News

Exploring FHT Sustainability and Resilience

As a well trusted and valued organisation within the Park Ecovillage and the Findhorn/Forres  area and beyond, the FHT has much to be grateful for and proud of – its work concerning local practical conservation, opportunities for environmental education, helping build local community and providing recreational resources on the land it manages goes from strength to strength.  And yet we also need to make sure that what the charity does can carry on well into the future, delivering for the local community and the land it looks after.  That is why fourteen of the core team including FHT trustees got together recently in the Cullerne House meeting room with consultants Karen and Kate from the government funded organisation Just Enterprise to look at where we are and what changes need to start to be made to ensure long term sustainability.  What follows is their full report.  

After reading it, if you are inspired to get involved in any way with our dynamic team and its work and help with this transition, do get in touch.

Jonathan Caddy
FHT Chair

Report from Findhorn Hinterland Trust Strategic Planning Session

22nd May 2024


The Findhorn Hinterland Trust (FHT) has a strong history of volunteerism and has fulfilled its charitable purposes effectively over the past eight years, building on the groundwork of the Findhorn Hinterland Group. However, to ensure sustainability and resilience for the future, FHT needs to undergo significant organisational changes.

Key reasons for change include:

  1. Stepping down of the current Chairperson: Jonathan has indicated that he wants to step down. He currently gives 35 hours and more to the Trust each week voluntarily.  
  2. Transition from land manager to landowner: FHT is acquiring the land it has managed. 
  3. FHT has a legal duty as the burial authority of the green burial site it operates to maintain the area one hundred years after the last burial
  4. Conservation work is in habitats that will require ongoing management into the foreseeable future. 

As FHT prepares for these transitions, a strategy session was conducted to discuss the organisation’s future path. This session involved trustees, staff and volunteers. 

Survey Results and Critical Issues. 

Before the strategy session, trustees, staff and volunteers were asked to complete an online survey. 

From the results and additional background research, we found that what FHT does is good, timely and relevant. However, a lot of what the organisation does pivots around Jonathan and while this is one of the organisation’s key strengths, it is also its biggest weakness. As the founder, Jonathan and FHT are inextricably linked. This is coupled with the difficulties the Trust faces to attract younger people to get involved in the organisation. Although income covers the current core costs, it would be insufficient to cover the salary of an operations manager.

Although Jonathan doesn’t intend to step down as Chair until January 2026 the Trust should begin planning for this because successful transitions often take several years to plan. It is also important that trustees understand that, currently, Jonathan effectively wears two hats. One as the Chair and the other as the main volunteer often giving 35 hours or more a week to the Trust. 

SWOT analysis results  

During the strategy session, attendees were asked to look at the following key areas of activity of the charity and consider the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of each, taking into consideration the 4 key reasons for change.

  • Conservation
  • Education
  • community building 
  • providing recreational opportunities
Strengths  Weaknesses 
  • Expertise – age, experience, knowledge, depth and breadth of skills- 



Practical skills 



Organisational management 


Local councillor



  • Continuity 
  • Passion and vision 
  • Uniqueness of location 
  • Connection with the eco-village and the people it attracts
  • Diverse sources of income 
  • Practical application of global issues
  • Involved in green issues which are topical 
  • Internal source of income that covers basic expenses 
  • People enjoy what we do
  • Ageing demographics 
  • Diluted energy – complex diverse functions
  • Lower population density – fewer volunteers
  • Foundation identification- less local support
  • Reliance on small group of people 
  • No specialist fund raiser 
  • Not enough music festivals!
  • Lack of connection to university level organisations 
Opportunities  Threats 
  • Increased visitors – means increased education/interest/revenue
  • Age demographic changes
  • Intergenerational events
  • Connect with other groups to raise awareness 
  • Use social media more effectively – e.g. use younger groups to post videos etc
  • Eco theatre 
  • Culture change 
  • Outreach to bring in new members/new energy
  • Whisky industry 
  • Green burials
  • Glasgow School of Art
  • Moray Council courses 
  • Scottish School of Forestry 
  • Increased local awareness
  • Cooperation with Dunes Trust 
  • Becoming landowners
  • Contact with local groups/schools 
  • Funding opportunities (as yet unexplored/exploited)
  • Nature networks – eg. CAN, TSI Moray
  • Tourism levy – potential income 
  • Visitor income 
  • Connected member networks
  • Ageing of trustees and land manager 
  • Insular 
  • Sea level rise
  • Losing expertise 
  • Increased number of unaware visitors
  • Demographic changes – falling number of young people 
  • Many things held by one person 

The SWOT analysis highlights significant strengths in that the work the Trust is involved in is very topical as well as the expertise and passion of those involved. However, it also identifies critical weaknesses such as an ageing volunteer base and diluted organisational focus. Opportunities exist in engagement and partnerships, which could help expand its influence and operations. Threats include the sustainability of leadership and environmental challenges, as well as the operational risks associated with dependency on a small group of key individuals.

Strategy development 

The group consensus, supported by survey results, suggests that the strategy for the next three years should concentrate on continuing what the organisation does at the moment and doing it well, rather than constantly pursuing new projects and expansion. This approach emphasises strengthening the organisation’s core competencies and maintaining the quality of its existing initiatives.

A key component of this strategy involves managing the transition as Jonathan plans to step back from his dual roles as both Chair and the primary volunteer. To ensure a smooth transition, it is crucial for Jonathan and the trustees to clearly distinguish the capacities in which he serves at any given time.

To facilitate role clarity and delegation, the board’s governance policies should clearly state to whom the board delegates management or operations.

If operational tasks are delegated to staff, detailed job descriptions should define the scope and boundaries of their roles. For subgroups taking on specific responsibilities, the board should establish clear terms of reference. These terms might outline the subgroup’s responsibilities, meeting frequency, reporting obligations, minimum volunteer numbers, and leadership roles.

When tasks are assigned to individual board members or other volunteers, the board should establish comprehensive volunteer roles and responsibilities for each type of task.

Having written guidelines that clearly separate governance from operations will aid in this transition, ensuring that everyone involved has a shared understanding of their roles and responsibilities. This structure not only supports the current needs of the FHT but also prepares the organisation for future leadership and operational changes.

Action Plan 

The session attendees agreed on the following actions. The next step is to decide who is responsible for implementing each action and when it should be completed.

Promote green burial – this is the main way to generate unrestricted income for the Trust 
Terms of reference for subgroups 
Set out as policy that core costs are funded by income and other activities are funded by grants
Look at the list of tasks that Jonathan does – colour code – high/medium/low priority and the number of hours it takes to do each task. What ones can be stopped, delegated to someone else or needs to be part of a paid post. Distinguish between the responsibilities that belong to the Chair and those that are operational
Identify what wider policies the Trust needs or already has and may require updating. 
Secretary has indicated that she also wants to step down – consider how this might be made possible including timescales.
Put energy into the group – do more things together 
Look further afield for volunteers 

Karen Maclean-Yuille


Impact Hub, Inverness

Posted in News

Dune Restoration Project Update

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Big Give appeal! 

This enables us to go ahead with the first year of dune restoration work, scheduled for this coming winter.  This involves the clearance of around half a hectare of carefully selected gorse, to create new bare sand habitats for rare and threatened sand dune species.  It will also help to reintroduce the natural process of windblown sand.

We had a very interesting meeting recently with ecologist James Bunyan, of Tracks Ecology, who kindly donated his time by coming over to explain how we might be able to use UAVs (drones) to monitor the ecological impact of the Project.  We hope to explore this further, potentially using cutting-edge techniques to monitor the response of rare lichens to our work.

A public meeting in March, in the Ecovillage, was very well attended.  There were presentations from Jonathan Caddy (Chair), Heather Paul (Lichenologist), Alan Watson Featherstone (Land Trustee), and myself.  The response was very enthusiastic, with an interesting and helpful discussion, concluded by an enjoyable walk on the land. 

Some of the more frequently asked questions we are asked about the Project, and our replies, include:

Q: Why are you removing the gorse?  This is an important habitat too.
A: We are only removing carefully selected areas of gorse, to make maximum biodiversity benefit for extremely rare species and habitats.  While gorse is a valuable habitat, it is replacing far more valuable habitats. These habitats support species which are threatened with extinction if action is not taken.  

Q:  The dunes are rewilding themselves, why do you want to interfere with this natural process?

A:  Gorse and tree growth on the dunes is not natural.  It is the result of previous human actions – mainly house building and tree planting – which has resulted in reduced wind speeds and plantation tree seeds being blown onto the dunes.  This has allowed scrub to spread quickly, so that natural, rare and fragile sand dune habitats and species are now threatened. We aim to open-up the scrub to truly natural, wind-driven, processes, rejuvenating the dune ecosystem.  We are carefully targeting our actions to benefit key habitats and species.  Gorse and woodland will continue to develop elsewhere on the dunes.  We are not alone in undertaking this urgent conservation work.  The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Europe’s largest nature conservation charity), Forestry and Land Scotland (the government agency responsible for the national forest estate), and the charity Butterfly Conservation all have similar dune restoration projects on the Moray Firth. 

Q:  What’s the point of doing this work if the gorse is going to take over anyway?  It’s a losing battle.

A: National biodiversity interests – lichens and insects – are under threat of extinction.  We know what the problem is.  We can do something about it.  If we don’t the problem will get worse.   We are in a world-wide biodiversity crisis and feel that, as custodians of the land, we have a responsibility to protect high priority species and habitats.  Increasing the flow of wind through the area will help to slow the spread of gorse and trees.  It’s an ongoing issue.  We are just starting.  But even if we do this project and nothing else, there will be immediate benefits for priority wildlife over the medium term.  

Please do keep an eye on our Facebook Page – Findhorn Hinterland Trust – for snippets of information on the importance of the dunes for biodiversity.  Recent posts have featured the following Star Species: 

  • Sandy Earthtongue fungus – found at only two sites in the UK, and plentiful here
  • The moth Scythris empetrella – found at only two sites in Scotland, Findhorn Dunes being the most important
  • The Felt Lichen –   a red Data Book, Endangered and Nationally Rare species, found in relative abundance on the dunes 
  • The moth Caryocolum blandelloides –  new to science as recently as 1981, with a UK range is limited to sand dune systems in the western Moray Firth.

It was also good to share an article from the Guardian, which describes how nature conservation organisations across the UK are turning their attention to hitherto overlooked rare coastal ‘microhabitats’ – just like the Findhorn dunes: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2024/mar/27/lizard-peninsula-recovery-project-save-microhabitats

Sean Reed,
Dune Restoration Project

Posted in News

Rare species

The focus of our Dune Restoration Project 

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust’s new Dune Restoration Project will be a central and important element of our work for the next few years, and its core purpose is to ensure that there is good habitat on the land that we manage for the rare species that live in the UK’s shifting sand ecosystems. Here, that habitat has been decreasing due to the expansion of gorse scrub and the spread of invasive non-native lodgepole pines, and, without action to address those issues now, it is highly likely that the species which make their home in it will disappear completely. However, by clearing key areas of gorse and young trees we will ensure that there continues to be a good habitat here for these unique and special species.

Whilst there is a considerable range of species that live in coastal sand dunes, we have highlighted 17 species that are of particular note and/or rarity.  They include 4 species of fly, 4 different moths, 2 hoppers, 3 lichens and 3 species of fungi, 2 of which are lichenicolous (meaning that they are found on, and feed from, lichens). These are the ‘star species’ of the dune restoration project and I will briefly describe some of them here.

Pied-winged robberfly (Pamponerus germanicus), Findhorn Hinterland

In 2019, during a survey on the Hinterland for Diptera or two-winged flies, a species that is on the Scottish Biodiversity List – the pied-winged robber fly (Pamponerus germanicus) – was found. The fly preys on beetles & parasitic wasps, and is restricted to 3 small coastal areas in Scotland, of which our land is one. The significance of this discovery is shown by the fact that a photograph I took of the fly featured on the cover of the Dipterist’s Digest journal, the specialist publication for two-winged flies. During the same survey in 2019, the identification of another fly (Metopia tshernovae) was the first confirmed record for this species (which is restricted to coastal sites) in the UK.

Small phoenix moth (Ecliptopera silaceata), Dundreggan

Amongst the 4 moth species, one (Scythris empetrella) has only been found at 2 sites in Scotland, of which the Findhorn dunes is the most important, and another (Caryocolum blandelloides) is restricted in the UK to the sand dunes of the western Moray Firth.

Planthopper (Muirodelphax aubei), Findhorn Hinterland

As I reported in our last newsletter, the survey for true bugs that we commissioned in 2023 identified 2 species of particular note. Those are a leafhopper (Gravesteiniella boldi) which occurs in coastal sandhills with marram grass and is very rarely recorded (this was the first record for Scotland), and a planthopper (Muirodelphax aubei), which has only been recorded at one other site in Scotland.

Dog lichen (Peltigera malacea) beside moss on the Findhorn Hinterland.

Of the 4 significant lichens the most important is matt felt lichen (Peltigera malacea), which is Nationally Rare and classified as Endangered in the Red Data Book of threatened species. It’s quite common on sand and near moss here, and is also the host for one of the lichenicolous fungi species (Dacampia peltigericola) on our list. Another of those lichenicolous fungi is Polycoccum trypethelioides, which grows on a lichen (Stereocaulon condensatum) that is a pioneer species and is often the first lichen to appear on bare sand.

Lichen (Stereocaulon condensatum) with a lichenicolous fungus (Polycoccum trypethelioides) on it.

The sandy earthtongue fungus (Sabuloglossum arenarium) is a sand and dune heath specialist species that has only been confirmed at 2 sites in the UK, of which Findhorn is one.

Sandy earthtongue fungus (Sabuloglossum arenarium) on sand, Findhorn Hinterland

All of these species, plus other more abundant ones such as the small heath butterfly, common lizard, small phoenix moth, brown hare and the linnet, will benefit from this vital dune restoration work that we will be carrying out in the coming years.

Alan Watson Featherstone, 

FHT Trustee & Chair of the Land Management subgroup.

14th February 2024

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