feel free to email us gifford.woodseh41@gmail.com and/or fill in the pledge form on the right - this is a community-led project, your input is important

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Spring Volunteer Dates

Please find below our programme for volunteering with Gifford Woods during spring 2019.

There are some dates which are marked TBC. This indicates that,depending on whether we can engage a contractor, we may be moving some piles of cut Rhododendron into more accessible areas to be mulched, otherwise we will go ahead with the programmed activity.

We hope you will be able to join us on one of these volunteering opportunities, and Nev has even promised to inspire you with new camp fire cooking ideas!
  • Saturday 23rd Feb, 9.00am – 12.30pm followed by lunch: Rhododendron Clearance
  • Sunday 10th Mar, 9.00am – 12.30pm followed by lunch: Rhododendron Clearance
  • Saturday 16th Mar, 9.00am – 12.30pm followed by lunch: Rhododendron Clearance
  • Sunday 7th Apr, 9.00am – 12.30pm followed by lunch: Wood fuel day (TBC)
  • Wednesday 24th Apr, 9.00am – 12.30pm followed by lunch: Ditch clearing (TBC)
Each session is being led by our Project Manager, Nev Kilkenny, and please meet at the camp area at the top of Station Road.

Monday, 14 January 2019

What’s happening this year in Gifford Community Woodland?

We made great progress, with your help, in 2018 and this year looks like more will be happening in the woodland as we heard recently that two grant applications were successful.   These were made to:-

  • Rural Payments scheme 
  • Viridor Credits.

These grants, together with some of the funds that we had already raised, will allow us to improve some of the paths in Fawn Wood and to create some new paths in Speedy Wood.

In a phased programme over the next 12 months, we will create a network of easily maintained “core” paths.  Outside of these, many of our existing, much loved, minor paths will be left “as is”. The new or improved paths will open up the woods to visitors with access requirements.  They will also reveal new parts of the woods for everyone to enjoy.

Our plan includes paths in Speedy Wood, in order to open this area up for the first time.  We need planning permission for these works; an application has been lodged with East Lothian Council.  We hope to hear back by early March and to start works soon after this. A map of the Paths can be found below, or downloaded in PDF format by clicking here.

Want to know more?

We’d love to share more details of the plans with you, and to hear what you think.  We are hosting a drop in session on
Wednesday 6th February
5pm to 7pm
Gifford Village Hall (Todrick Room)

As usual, if you would like to keep up-to-date with our news, please ensure you follow us on Twitter or Facebook or keep an eye on the village noticeboard. You can also subscribe to our email newsletters by clicking here and giving us your details.

A Downloadable PDF version of this map is available by clicking here.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Volunteering Dates in January & February

Dear Woodlanders,

Our volunteering days for the next two months are now confirmed, and will be:
  • Sat 12th January, 9am - 12:30pm
  • Sat 26th January, 10am - approx. 3pm (but don't worry if you need to leave earlier)
  • Sat 2nd February, 10am - approx. 3pm (but don't worry if you need to leave earlier)
  • Sat 23rd February, 10am - approx. 3pm (but don't worry if you need to leave earlier)
To manage 55 acres of ancient woodland does take quite a bit of work, so if you would be able to volunteer on any of these dates it would be much appreciated.

Further details are below.  If you would like to join any of these sessions, please contact our Project Manager, Nev Kilkenny (nev@fungi.co.uk) who will also be able to answer any questions.  Nev himself is also going to be leading all of these sessions.

We look forward to seeing lots of you during January and February, and thanks in advance for your support.

Sat 12th Jan:
This will be a wood fuel day. We are particularly interested in volunteers that have acquired their chain saw ticket with us helping to clear up some of the dead wood from tree safety work. We also need volunteers to split logs, wheel barrow logs and stack logs - so something for everyone!! We'll meet at 9.00 am at the welfare camp and work until 12.30, then I will make some lunch on the campfire for everyone.

26th Jan, 2nd Feb and 23rd Feb:
For the next three volunteering days we will be joined by the Lothian Conservation Volunteers and will be tackling Rhododendron. We're hoping these will be fantastic days where we achieve loads as a big group and learn lots from these more experienced volunteers. These events will start a little later at 10 am and will finish at approx 3 pm, again lunch and snacks will be provided. Don't worry if you can't stay the whole time, we'd love to see you anyway.
This big push on the rhododendron is to clear a broader route for our path network for which we now have 87% of our funding for and are hoping to get started on very soon.

Happy New Year and best wishes to All.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Autumn Volunteering Dates

We now have volunteering dates in the diary for the whole of the Autumn.  If you are interested in joining any of these sessions, please contact our Project Manager, Nev Kilkenny (nev@fungi.co.uk) who will be able to answer any questions and put you in touch with the leader.
We look forward to seeing lots of you during the next few months, and thanks in advance for your support.

Wednesday 12th September, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by Kevin Hague and Nev Kilkenny
Saturday 22nd September, 10.00am – 14.00
  • Fungi foray. 
  • Volunteers required to help cook/serve drinks, soup & canapes. 
  • Led by Nev Kilkenny
Thursday 27th September, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Wood fuel day, tidying and processing deadwood from last year’s tree safety work.
  • Led by Kevin Hague and Nev Kilkenny
Wednesday 3rd October, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by Adam White (NK available to assist as req.)
Saturday 6th October, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by Kevin Hague (NK available to assist as req.)
Saturday 20th October, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by Adam White
Saturday 3rd November, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by John Wrinn (AW available to assist as req.)
Saturday 17th November, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Rhododendron Clearance. 
  • Led by Kevin Hague 
Saturday 24th November, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • Ditch clearance. 
  • Led by John Wrinn (NK available to assist as req.)
Saturday 1st December, 09.00am – 12.30pm
  • TBC. 
  • Led by Nev Kilkenny

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Do you know that you own 55 acres of Woodland? Come along to find out more & have your say.

Yes, YOU, and the community of Gifford now own the beautiful, magical Fawn & Speedy Woods at the top of Station Road.
Read more below, and please try to attend one or both of our forthcoming events to find out more and have your say.

  • The woods came onto the market and needed to be protected, as wild and ancient woodland, to be enjoyed by us all.
  • A large group of people worked very hard to submit successful applications to the Scottish Land Fund and others.
  • In April 2017, the woods were purchased on behalf of the community.
  • We have set-up a charitable organisation called Gifford Community Land Company, with Directors and a management committee (a legal requirement) to conserve and care for the woods.
  • We now have a great resource to enjoy forever, but woods need looked after and managed.
  • This takes money! We need to raise on-going funds to keep our woods cared for.
  • We have engaged a woodland expert, Nev, to work with us until 2020.
  • Our grants require us to make the woods more accessible to ALL the community, so we will be building an all-access path round the woods. All the other woodlands tracks will be left as they are.
  • We need lots of volunteers to help with various woodland work. Volunteers get training, new skills and have great fun.

  • Get out into the woods, and enjoy them! 
  • Join in any of our events – watch out for publicity.
  • Attend our:
    • CONDUCTED WALK THROUGH THE WOODS on Thursday 23rd August. 
      • Meet at 5:30pm at Speedy Bridge.  
      • No tickets required, just come along.
    • SOCIAL EVENING & AGM on Monday 27th August, 7:30pm in the Village Hall. Join us to:
        • Celebrate with us.
        • Find out all about the woods and our plans. Get information and tell us your views, concerns and ideas.
        • Enjoy a social evening with food, drink & meeting with friends.
      • Just visit Hoggs Newsagents to get FREE TICKETS. Two lucky tickets will win prizes! Or just come along on the night, although places are subject to capacity!
Register your interest in both events on our Facebook page at:

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Social Evening / AGM - plus Conducted Woodland Walk

This year our AGM is also going to be a Social Evening! 
It will take place on Monday 27th August, from 7:30pm in Gifford Village Hall.
Please join us to:

  • Celebrate with us.
  • Find out about the woods and our plans. Get information and tell us your views, concerns & ideas.
  • Enjoy a social evening with food, drink & meetings friends.
More details will follow.  Please see our Facebook event page here.

In advance of this, we are also conducting a CONDUCTED WALK THROUGH THE WOODS.  This will be on Thursday 23rd August, meeting at 5:30pm at Speedy Bridge (towards the end of Station Road, next to our sign).
Again, we have a Facebook event page here

Monday, 30 April 2018

Read our interview with GCLC Project Manager, Nev Kilkenny

There has been a lot going on in Gifford Woods recently.  To find out more about what has been happening and why, we sat down for a chat with Nev Kilnenny - he is GCLC's Project Manager who works part-time to manage the Woods.

Hi Nev, you are the Project Manager for Gifford Community Woodland, so firstly tell us a bit more about how this came about?
In early 2017, the community came together to buy Gifford Woods, with the support of the Scottish Land Fund, East Lothian Council Partnership Fund, Fallago Environment Fund and other sources including donations from many local people.  Part of the funding raised was to pay for a part-time Project Manager – I applied for the job and was lucky enough to get it! My experience of woodlands is mainly in Conservation Management. I also work as a project manager and carpenter. The Management Committee were very keen to draw on that experience to preserve the woods as an asset for the community.

Did you know Gifford Woods already?
Yes, absolutely.  I live just outside Gifford with my family. I am a consultant mycologist/fungal ecologist (having qualified from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2009). I knew Gifford woods extensively from our frequent family walks and I have run activities there as a local Cub Scout Leader. However, I also recognised that the woods were an important ancient woodland ecosystem.

There has been a lot of activity already with trees and plants being cut down. Why is that?
The woods hadn’t been managed in recent years, so we immediately had to make safe any dangerous trees and any hungbranches that were near pathways (as they could easily have fallen and hurt someone out walking)
Most of the woodland is either ancient of semi-natural origin or ancient, long established plantation. Due to the lack of management, some non-native species have been allowed to invade large areas of the woodland, Speedy Wood in particular. As a community asset, it’s great that we can take a long-term view to better manage the woods. So we have already removed two small compartments of non-native conifers as many of these were wind-blown and posed a significant fire risk.
Teams of local volunteers have been removing rhododendron which has smothered roughly 4 ½ hectares of Speedy Wood and is beginning to establish itself in some areas of Fawn Wood also. 
I’m pleased to say that we have planted over 2,700 native trees already, which of course will slowly grow to replace the cleared Rhododendron and conifers.

Why have so many cut or fallen trees have been left?
This is mostly deliberate – fallen or cut trees provide a great place for fungi and smaller wildlife to live and grow.  As the ‘bottom’ of the food chain, so to speak, this will help the entire ecosystem of the woods. In particular, large diameter deadwood has become one of the rarest habitats in Scotland as it is nearly always removed and sold to raise capital.
We do still have some tidying up to do though. Now that we are into the spring, the birds are nesting and we are out of the tree planting season, so we will be focusing more on that kind of activity.

Couldn't we sell it as firewood?
We have cut and split some wood, mainly from large sycamores which are non-native and had to be felled because they were unsafe. In the future, we plan to sell some logs as/when we need to remove similar unsafe trees.

What’s next in the plan?
As part of the funding commitment we need to look at ways to make the woods accessible for ALL of our community. We are therefore in the process of planning and applying for additional funding to create an all ability access pathway around both Speedy and Fawn Woods.  This will enable wheelchair users or visitors with buggies to follow a ‘figure of eight’ route right around the woods.
The works needed to prepare for this mean that the Woods might not look as great as normal for a while.  But the Management Committee feels it is important that everyone in our community can enjoy this amazing asset now it is ours, as I’m sure everyone will understand.

Didn’t the community already use the woods – young and old?
A lot of them do, you’re right.  But we know through research that those with accessibility needs found, and still find it, difficult.  The plan allows us to address this.
I’m really pleased about the number of additional children that we have already brought into the woods, many of whom had not been in previously.  Some readers may have seen our ‘outdoor classroom’ (at the very end of Station Road).  We’ve had Years P3 – P7 of Yester Primary in to use that facility already which is fantastic and the plan is to bring P1 & P2 up to the woods in the coming months.  We’ve also had P5 helping out to go towards their John Muir Award, and we’ve hosted a 4th Birthday Party!

What about this outdoor film screening?
Again, we want to open up the woods and encourage all our community to visit and enjoy it.  So from the start, we had planned to work with the great Gifford Film Club to do an outdoor film screening.  It was an amazing day – we had over 120 people there.

All sounds good, how can I get involved or give my thoughts?
We have lots going on. The Management Committee meets regularly to discuss and make decisions which is what sets my agenda as Project Manager, and these are followed by Drop-In Q&A sessions in Lanterne Rouge.  The Management Committee is always looking for more members to join, and our next AGM is in August 2018. 
But you can also contact us at any time to let us know your thoughts – via email, Facebook, Twitter or telephone.  We are also planning an information panel and noticeboard in the woods which will help us let everyone know just what is happening.
This is a community woodland, and we are all especially keen that we engage the whole community in our activities so please do get in touch.