BCT owns and manages Balfour Forest to promote the common good of the inhabitants of Birse parish and deliver wider public benefits. The Forest covers 241 hectares in the north west of the parish and was purchased by BCT on behalf of the community in 2010.
BCT’s aim is to manage and develop the Forest as a native pinewood that has varied habitats and high amenity, while also producing a sustainable supply of timber that contributes financially to other activities carried out by BCT on behalf of the local community.
BCT has leased the management of the Forest to its wholly owned subsidiary, the Birse Trading Company or BTCo since BCT became the owner in 2010. BTCo is responsible for implementing BCT’s long term, Forestry Commission Scotland approved Forest Plan for Balfour Forest 2011-30. Important parts of the Plan are:
- achieving an adequate level of deer control to encourage natural regeneration.
- maintaining the individually protected planted broadleaves until fully established
- carrying out some further planting in areas clear felled by the previous owner.
- maintaining the Coffin (or Church) Road and opening up the Foggage Road.
- developing a wider network of informal paths within the Forest.
- carrying out a range of other habitat and amenity improvements.
Historically, the land that now makes up Balfour Forest was parts of three properties separated by the Coffin Road and by the old dyke that runs for 1.5 kms through the Forest. By the 1840s, all the land in Balfour Forest was part of Balfour Estate owned by the Cochrans (see History in Birse). In 1956, the Cochrans sold the part of the Estate now known as Balfour Forest to the Secretary of State for Scotland for planting up by the Forestry Commission. BCT then became the next owner in 2010.