The John Muir Trust has signed a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust).
The community landowner manages 56,000 acres of coastline, agricultural land and moorland in North West Lewis, which is home to a population of nearly 2,000 people in 22 crofting townships
The signing is the third MOU agreed between the John Muir Trust and major community land trusts on Lewis and Harris.
In July, an agreement was renewed between the Pitlochry-based land charity and the West Harris Trust, with a further MoU approved with the North Harris Trust in August.
The Galson Estate passed into community ownership on 12 January 2007. The new MoU underscores both parties intent to work together on collaborative projects and signals a renewed focus following previous joint work.
The MOU will allow the John Muir Trust to support the Galson Estate Trust with its land management and conservation work. The community landowner will in turn draw upon its expertise of community-led conservation management to help the environmental charity sharpen up its policy and management practices.
The two organisations have also joined forces to put together a transition programme of events and activities for Primary Seven pupils across two community owned estates next year. The pupils will work towards achieving their John Muir Discovery Awards in the outdoors, while getting to know pupils from other primary schools before they start secondary school together in Stornoway next autumn.
The programme has been made possible with funding from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Galson will work in partnership with Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust) to deliver this project across both their estates.
The John Muir Trust has also secured funding for a new full-time ranger post to work with community land trusts on the Western Isles. Funded by the ALA Green Trust, the ranger will support land management, education and community participation in outdoors activities.
The John Muir Trust’s Land Operations Manager, Richard Williams, said: “The John Muir Trust is strongly supportive of community landownership, and we are eager to strengthen our links and partnerships with the communities who live and work in the unique landscapes of the Outer Hebrides.
Renewing this Memorandum of Understanding with the Galson Estate demonstrate our shared desire to work more closely and collaborate in areas of mutual interest – and the provision of a Western Isles Ranger Post is a clear sign of that intent. I look forward to building upon this and on the other positive relationships we have on Lewis and Harris.
Lisa Maclean, Manager of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn said: “We are very pleased to be working with John Muir Trust more closely as the relationship was once very strong and from it we were able to carry out some great work.
"We look forward to the year ahead to get some of the planned activities up and running, and we welcome the ranger post that will be established on the islands.”