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Commonwealth Woods – Getting Involved, Getting Active and Being Inspired

Hugh McNish, Social Programme Manager, Forestry Commission Scotland

The Commonwealth Woods is an initiative comprising fourteen woods in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley that has been engaging with people living in socially and economically deprived communities and encouraging them to visit their local woods more often.

Led by Forestry Commission Scotland, it has brought together a range of partners including the Woodland Trust Scotland, the Commonwealth Forestry Association, Glasgow City Council, Clyde Gateway, Cassiltoun Housing Association, West Dunbartonshire Council, South Lanarkshire Council and Paths for All.

The network contains a range of woods of various ages and stages of development: from well established ‘destination’ woods with important ancient trees and wildlife; to newly-planted woods; to a riverside park  being created out of derelict land opposite what was the  Commonwealth Games athletes’ village.  Each of these woodland settings offers outdoor spaces for local people and visitors to experience free events and activities, get active or just to go for a walk in the fresh air. 

At the heart of this programme are three core campaigns aimed for people to get involved, get active and be inspired by the Commonwealth Woods.  Each campaign has engaged with diverse sections of the local community through a range of educational, engagement and health related activities. To date over 300 events and activities have been delivered throughout the network with over 22,000 people attending. 

A key part of the network has been the £5.7 million development of Cuningar Woodland Park across the Clyde from the former Athletes' Village.  This community greenspace is a much need resource for local people, with over 3000 people attending the first come and try sessions in September 2015. 

The park has some exciting features including:

•Adventure play facilities
•A bike skills area
•Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park
•A woodland workout
•Large meadow and picnic areas
•An outdoor classroom
•A riverside boardwalk
•A new bridge linking the wood to the former Athletes’ Village

The site is due to fully open in early 2016 and is currently open to the public at weekends from 10am till 4pm.