Low Impact Living

Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today, and forests and the forestry sector have an important role to play in reducing emissions through reducing demand, replacing fossil fuels with renewables, localising energy use and production, and promoting sustainable working and lifestyles.

Building work, in preparation for Big Tent 2007

Scotland could be a forerunner in low impact living, but first we need to remove obstacles and create vital support structures to help this happen. At Reforesting Scotland we can see that within our network there is a growing momentum for doing this within a well-forested land. People are keen to create ecologically sustainable lives for themselves, reducing their energy demand and consumption and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. At local and national levels we need a progressive and holistic approach to all aspects of community life, from housing, energy, access to land, diversity of livelihoods, food production and local decision-making.

Low impact living means individuals and groups of people building a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable lifestyle. The Low Impact Living project seeks to raise awareness of the barriers to and opportunities for low impact development, particularly in relation to forests and forest resources, in Scotland. The project will involve analysing policies and practice around low impact building, developing case studies, and developing and distributing information materials and practical tools for people wanting to pursue these kinds of developments.

Reforesting Scotland and low impact living

Reforesting Scotland in the newly-finished structure at Big Tent 2007

Affordable, sustainable housing

Reforesting Scotland has always worked to promote sustainable living and working through forestry, for example through promoting affordable, high quality, sustainable housing using local materials. Reforesting Scotland Journal 33, A Place to Live, focused on affordable, sustainable housing. At Big Tent 2006 Reforesting Scotland and the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) joined to give demonstrations on sustainable building and wider use of natural materials. For Big Tent 2007 we collaborated with SEDA and the Association for Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers (ASHS) to support a Walter Segal timber self-build course - which produced the building which sheltered our stalls for the weekend. (See photos.) The course was run by Duncan Roberts, and used locally grown timber.

Survey of members - Woods, Forests and Climate Change

Our commitment to promoting sustainable living within the context of climate change has been strengthened recently through adopting a new aim: "to raise awareness of the benefits of low energy living based on woodland resources". In July 2007 we sent out a survey to Reforesting Scotland members, asking questions about energy, food, and forests, to find out how they are living or adapting their lifestyles to reduce their impact on climate change. This will help us to discover how our members, and the values that Reforesting Scotland works to support, are helping to tackle climate changes, as well as improve the work that we do in future.


We also support the wood fuel industry through our Fuelwood project.

Some useful links

Architects and builders in wood

Dunbeag Project - Prototype affordable houses from local timber in Argyll, linked to a community forest project.

Gaia Architects - Innovative ecological design for communities, houses, offices and tourism development.

Locate Architects - Specialising in sustainable development and ecological design.

Neil Sutherland Architects - Promoting the use of large-section homegrown timber.

Northwoods Construction - Timber structures and buildings; specialist services in planning, design, building, project management, woodland/forestry management.

Quercus Architects and Builders - Extensive knowledge of building with timber, and of sourcing timber in Scotland.

Torbreck Sustainable Buildings - Timber clad, turf roof, post & beam house using Scottish timbers.

Other organisations

Ecology Building Society - Building society specialising in properties that convey an ecological benefit. Services include a Small Woodland mortgage, to enable individuals, groups and charities to purchase woodland for conservation and preservation.

Low-Impact Living Initiative (LILI) - Courses and information on practical things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.

Scottish Community Land Network (SCLN) - Aims to encourage community land initiatives throughout Scotland.

Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA) - Promoting the design of communities, environments, projects, systems, services, materials and products which enhance the quality of life of, and are not harmful to, living species and planetary ecology.

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