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Caithness News Bulletins March 2005

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Land Issues      
A series of workshops relating to community land ownership is to be launched on 25th March when the first seminar, Youth on Board, is to be held. The event will focus on involving young people in the practical management of community owned land.

The Youth on Board seminar, to be hosted by the Abriachan Forest Trust, will explore ways to involve young people at all stages of land management and also celebrate the Trust's success in stimulating collaboration across the generations.

This is the first seminar in a programme of 30 training events being provided by the Community Land Unit of Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE), with financial assistance from a trans-regional partnership of North Highland, Western Isles, Skye and Lochalsh and West Highland European LEADER Kist (WHELK) LEADER+ programmes.

Other events in the series, which will run over the next two years, will include renewable energy, woodland management, access and recreation, wildlife tourism, land reform and housing.

All the events will be hosted by community land initiatives, and will push training out to some of the most rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, enhancing networking of community land initiatives and their personnel.

The programme is seen as a timely investment given the hugely expanding inte rest in community land ownership and the potential for renewed community engagement as a result of the Land Reform Act.

Community land ownership has developed rapidly over the past seven years since the formation of HIE's Community Land Unit. There are now around 40 large initiatives which either have, or aspire to have, management responsibility for over 500,000 acres of Scotland and involve 290 volunteer directors representing 3,800 members.

LEADER+ is a European Union initiative that seeks to support local rural development strategies, continuing from the LeaderII programme. It is aimed at encouraging and supporting high quality and innovative integrated strategies for local rural development with a strong emphasis on co-operation and networking between rural areas within the UK and throughout Europe.