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Former member claims Findhorn Foundation not as 'green' as it claims

By Garry McCartney

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A wood-burning stove flume at the Findhorn Foundation.
A wood-burning stove flume at the Findhorn Foundation.

A FORMER member of the Findhorn Foundation (FF) claims the ecological community omits tree-burning from its energy figures.

Having reviewed the site's energy costs, the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, pointed out that its claims of a low carbon footprint are therefore exaggerated.

He said: "At this time of the year, a walk around Pineridge in the Foundation will show smoking chimneys and log stacks outside each house. Their central heating systems were reduced in output capacity so wood stoves have to be used to supplement the heating.

"I am told this extra energy from the trees is not accounted for, which is quite naughty for an eco-village that boasts a low carbon footprint and preservation of trees. They are cutting them down and burning them as free fuel!"

The man believes trees were cleared around the site earlier this winter for firewood and to create more room for "new and profitable housing stock".

He said: "At first, I was very enthusiastic about the Findhorn Foundation but, as I learned more, I saw it as a fake-o-village, not an eco-village, bearing all the hallmarks of a profit-making machine intent on building houses and selling courses.

"I found it had little regard for people or the environment and I am now looking for an alternative solution."

The Findhorn Hinterland Trust was set up in 2015 to help integrate land management and involve the local community. The Trust's intentions stated on its website include: promoting environmental protection and improvement; and educating the community and wider public in relation to the outdoor and environmental opportunities local habitats provide.

Kajedo Wanderer of The Hinterland Trust confirmed material sourced from Wilkie's Wood - adjacent to the FF - is burned in 12 stoves around The Park.

He said: "All other wood stoves here source their timber elsewhere as Wilkie's does not produce enough timber for all stoves in The Park.

"The timber we turn into firewood is a by-product of our primary purpose: to create a healthy, resilient woodland around The Park.

"When we purchased it, Wilkie's Wood was neglected, overstocked and never thinned. Our priority is thinning it out and taking on a restoration project. We introduce broad-leaf trees for a mixed forest, creating healthy edges and supporting biodiversity. The timber of trees we thin is used for firewood, and, to a smaller degree, construction on site."

Mr Wanderer pointed out that locally-sourced firewood has no carbon emissions generated by transport lorries.

He said: "An attempt has been made in recent years to include the cost of timber in our energy calculations.

"We have not cut into Wilkie's Wood to make room for housing. Instead, we have increased it's size slightly by planting around 3000 trees along its edges and beyond in the area known as Lyle's Wood. The planting was started after a big fire some 20 years ago and completed last year."

He added: "There was a clearing of trees on New Findhorn Directions sites opposite The Phoenix shop for affordable housing. However, we offset the loss by planting we have done in and around Wilkie's Wood, not to mention the millions of trees planted around Scotland, by Trees For Life, a charity based here in The Park which is part of our community."

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