Our Ambition

[Written by Rhyddian Knight, Forest Ranger for FOGW]

Having moved from the Inner Hebrides to settle here, I would be overreaching myself to claim to represent all views regarding the direction that we should move in. We have yet to undertake our community led planning process and thus are some way from establishing the parishes vision for their wood.

However, in my capacity as a father, aspirant crofter, outdoor educator and Glenan’s single employee, there are some things I can say regarding our ambition quite clearly and with conviction.


Friends of Glenan Wood are committed to the ecological restoration of Glenan wood, we see it as an essential piece to the puzzle of landscape scale habitat restoration across South West Cowal. We are committed to mitigating all the threats identified in the Plantations on Ancient Woodland Survey; and to further identifying the distinctiveness that we have here, what condition the wood is in; and how we can best support it.


  • We would like to remove rhododendron ponticum to the point of complete eradication throughout the site and guard against re-infestation.
  • We would like to manage the deer population at a suitable density whereby decades of over-browsing can be arrested and new trees can grow.
  • We would like to ringbark, or cut-to-waste invasive non-native conifers and remove saplings to prevent future encroachment of broadleaf woodland.
  • We would like to improve different areas of the wood in line with recommendations made in the UK Habitat survey to establish long term net gains in biodiversity.
  • We would like to follow best practice in maintaining and improving lichen and bryophyte populations as well as other ecological markers that distinguish Atlantic rainforest from other habitats.

The ‘with people’ principle

I believe FOGW can commit to achieving the above ‘environmental improvement’ ambitions with ‘improving the conditions of people’ that live here. I believe we can contribute to this in terms of economy, health and supporting community vision.


To date, the land acquisition has profoundly and positively influenced my livelihood. It follows, that opportunities for livelihood could be sought and extended to others in ways that support the wood. The opportunities to positively effect local economies and local people, be that through social enterprises, local charitable aims, low impact forms of business/ (eco)tourism, special interest/affiliated groups or employing local contractors cannot be over-emphasised; here is ground for our community to stand on and enact within.


‘Small cords become strings become ropes of relationship to creation’

I believe that the landscape at Glenan has provided a restorative mileau for some members of the parish for a long time, there is relationship and ancestral memory for many here, spanning multiple generations. There is ambition for the wood to be a safe, therapeutic and profoundly normal way for all local people to unwind and renew. Sometimes, creating a safe space is about giving implicit permission; after all no one wants to be singled out and labelled a daftie.

Following a wokshop with Camilo Brokaw at the Community Woodlands Association last year, I have decided to adopt the Wild Ways Well methodology as the core component for planning and framing my guided walks. Wild Ways Well is structured around the Five Ways to Wellbeing, an internationally recognised framework for promoting good mental health in use by organisations all over the world including the NHS and the major UK mental health charities.


‘When you repeat something you enjoy over and over you get passion,
support peoples passion over and over; you get vision’

To date, identifying peoples postcode has being the easy bit, finding other ways to identify as ‘our community’ remains elusive. I have ambition to locate all the different self-affirming ways that get people to say ‘aye’ to showing up in the wood, informally or to events. Showing up to attend to the cadence and spaces between birdsong, to get the smell of humus in their lungs; and the felt vigour of staying outdoors beyond the scope of the chore-of-the-season; to allow the potential for moments that naturally stir the field of possibility we call emergence.

Under the canopy, from the evening fireside; it is evident, the myriad motifs of living close to your ground are compellingly healthy.

Activities such as harvesting or managing natural materials, or engaging with their respective handcrafts or handwork, listening to traditional storyies, making music or sharing food – all have very potent epigenetic components; and have capacity and context in this place to profoundly and positively effect human health and well being. I’d like Glenan to be a space where there is a diverse array of opportunities for local people to encounter such internally cognised rewards convivially under the canopy; a programme which caters for different tastes and motivations representative in the Kilfinan parish.

So where are ‘we’ headed?

In the realm of decision making, community led planning will require ‘all of us’ around the table. At once, ‘all of us’ requires an attitude of right mind – I’m no expert, but I’d suggest a mix of strong ambition, remembrance, skilled communication, tending to grief/grievances, forgiveness, providence, external support, and letting go of fixed positions. For now, all I can say is we are hoping to dive into the working group planning process in the latter part of this year; and in my daily praxis I am endeavouring to listen and be inclusive.

Capital: FAIRSHARE- We need money!

We also have ambitions to wash our own face. Being solvent for current operations required is no mean feat. At present, we require some very basic budget items which are not there.

Our ambition is to decrease reliance on grant funding and donations by developing income streams such as guided walks and events for visitors to the area.