A Brief History of LFT
1950s & 60s - 34 local men were employed directly by the Forestry Commission on planting and other work within the Strathmashie Forest but in Early 1980s - only one man was employed just part time, working in Strathmashie Forest
1992 - the Laggan Forestry Initiative (LFI) was formed with the aim of buying the forest, in order to safeguard local jobs, but was unable to raise £1.75 million required
1992 to 1996 - LFI engaged in a number of activities designed to secure its objective of managing the forest (perhaos not buying) and in 1996, The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Forsyth, announced his support for Laggan’s project.
1998 - Laggan Forest Trust (LFT) was established with the assistance of Laggan Community Association and Forest Enterprise as “founder members”, with the Laggan Forest Partnership established with Forest Enterprise (FE), enabling the community to play an active part in the management of the Strathmashie Forest. At the same time, a subsidiary trading company of LFT, The Laggan Forest Trust Forestry Company (LFTFC) was created to manage any related forestry and timber sales.
2004 - a 25 year partnership agreement was signed between the Forestry Commission and LFT but crucially Forestry Commission agreed to develop the Laggan Wolftrax mountain biking centre in the forest estate with Base Camp providing a temporary cafe and bike hire facility (until 2012). LFT’s original office was in Laggan Village but when Wolftrax opened moved into a portacabin at the Strathmashie site.
2007-2010 - LFT purchased 3 distinct parcels of land in 2007 within the Strathmashie Forest, comprising a total of 19 hectares, and secured funding assistance from the Scottish Land Fund. In the following 3 years Forestry Commission extended the bike trails.
2011 - 2013 - LFT organised numerous educational activities in the forest, including nature study, music and theatre, with assistance from the Bank of Scotland Foundation to fund volunteers and part-time employees.
2012 - 2014 - a welcome £142k grant request from the Enterprise Growth Fund was coordinated by LFT for overall community benefit and employment – notably to provide support for the fledgling Badenoch Broadband Company, funds to establish a small timber trading and trail maintenance activity, the creation of a wood-fuel business and the provision of “uplift” facilities for the mountain bike trails.
2014 to 2018 - the funding and building of a permanent centre and café facility at Laggan Wolftrax was supported by Cairngorm National Park Authority and Forestry Commission with the building commissioned in Easter 2015. The centre is a lovely, bright airy facility with a cafe providing a range of hot and cold food & drinks and facilities including a learning space for courses and meetings, plus toilets and showers. The LFT office continues in The Centre as well as a bike shop operated by Bike Bothy Laggan.
2018 onwards - With the Trust modifying its Articles in late 2017 to include support of recreational activities as well as the preservation, protection and management of the forest environment, the trust’s development plan is to cater for and be supportive of Forest Land Scotland’s forestry management and visitor recreational objectives, the Cairngorm National Park’s visitor and recreational objectives, and to support our nearest “heritage neighbour” with SNH at Creag Meagaidh. The mountain bike trails and other way marked trails throughout the Forest estate represent a wonderful experience for all.
2021 onwards - significant projects in the future include an external extension to the Laggan Wolftrax centre, built by local building group, Spey Builders from Kingussie. The increase in capacity will allow the cafe to accomodate many more people as well as displaying Visitor Information panels about Laggan and the surrounding area.
2023 - the BLUE MTB Trail project - the development of a BLUE MTB trail and improvements and re-grading of the existing mountain bike trails are expected to be completed during 2023 providing an important legacy after the UCI World Cycling Championships being held in Scotland in 2023.