Birse Community Trust (BCT)
Facts & Figures
Birse covers over 125sq. km on Deeside in the north-east of Scotland. The parish (district) has four main parts: the three scattered rural communities of Finzean, Ballogie and Birse and the largely uninhabited Forest of Birse, which covers over a quarter of the parish’s total area. The parish has around 330 households, with half of the population living in Finzean and half in Ballogie and Birse.
Company Limited by guarantee with Charitable Status
£10K (5 year average)(excludes income earned by BCT’s trading company)
Finzean Old School, Finzean Sawmill, the Bucket Mill, Birse Kirk, Birse Community Hall, Ballogie Soutar’s Shop, Slewdrum Forest, Balfour Forest and land use rights, including timber rights, over the Forest of Birse Commonty.
Value of assets
Roots & Links
The impetus to establish BCT in 1998 came from two sources. Firstly, there was increasing recognition within the local community during the 1990s that the community needed the means to tackle an increasing range of local issues. Secondly, towards the end of the 1990s, the need arose to safeguard the future of ancient rights over the extensive area known as the Forest of Birse Commonty. Birse Community Trust (BCT) was set up in 1998 to hold the Commonty Rights on behalf of the community and constituted as a local community business to enable it to be involved in a wide range of activities “to promote the common good of the inhabitants of the parish of Birse and deliver wider public benefits”.
Everyone on the electoral registers for the parish (currently c.650) is eligible to become a voting member of BCT and responsible for electing up to seven local Trustees who run BCT on behalf of the local community. Anyone who lives outwith Birse can support the Trust by becoming an Associate Member.
Birse parish has three Community Associations (one in each of the parish’s communities), two Community Councils (one in each half of the parish) and one community business (covering the whole parish). BCT is the local community business and its role in developing and implementing projects on behalf of the community, complements the roles of the Community Associations and Community Councils. These six community bodies meet as the Birse Parish Liaison Group annually and as and when required, with BCT providing the secretariat.
BCT has links with Aberdeenshire Council and a range of government bodies and NGOs. BCT is a subscription member of one organisation (DTA Scotland).
Finzean Old School is the centre of BCT’s operations with BCT’s offices and meetings room, and the parish archive. BCT owns Birse Community Hall which is managed by the Birse Area Community Association.
Builds Local Capacity
BCT was set up by the local community to enable the community to tackle a greater range of local issues. BCT’s projects and other activities demonstrate the ways in which BCT achieves this, while the development of BCT also continues to contribute to increased local community activity in Birse parish more generally.
BCT undertakes a wide range of social, economic and environmental projects on behalf of the community. Its main involvement is the management of land and buildings at a dozen sites spread across the parish to safeguard and promote community identity, well-being and development (see list below). BCT also manages parish wide natural heritage, cultural heritage and footpath programmes, together with a wide range of community development projects and related activities.
BCT owns and / or manages twelve sites in Birse parish. BCT owns Finzean Old School, Finzean Sawmill, the Bucket Mill, Birse Kirk, Birse Community Hall, Ballogie Soutar’s Shop, Balfour Forest (240ha) and Slewdrum Forest (170ha). BCT also holds ancient rights over the Forest of Birse Commonty (c.3750 ha) including the native pinewoods there (c.550 ha). BCT has long term leases over Corsedardar, Finzean School Wood, Finzean Community Woods and the Finzean Community Path.
BCT has a wholly owned subsidiary company, the Birse Trading Company (BTCo). It is involved in managing CTS’s three forests, which have a total area of nearly 1000 ha.
BCT has been operating successfully for 17 years (1998-2015)
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