Duneland Ltd (DL) is a shareholding company (registered in Scotland No SC174358) with 69 shareholders, all with a close connection to the Findhorn Foundation Community, and 44 resident within 5 miles of The Park. The company is run by the Managing Director, John Gordon, in close collaboration with the board of directors.
In 1997 DL bought the estate adjacent to The Park and connecting the different land holdings of the community at Cullerne and The Park. 175 acres of the land was put into the Findhorn Dunes Trust (FDT) to be preserved as a nature reserve in perpetuity. Over 100 acres are managed by the Findhorn Hinterland Group (FHG), a community group, as amenity land including a Green Burial Site and buffer zone between the residential areas of the peninsula and the precious wild dunes and the sea. 16 acres of the estate were designated for development – the biggest area being the Magic Triangle (MT).
DL is a social enterprise supported by the shareholders’ resolution to limit their financial return by capping any available dividend to facilitate community benefit. In return the company offers shareholders a first right of refusal on any property released for sale. This ensures that future residents in any development can be actively involved in decision making early on. Each shareholder has equal voting power irrespective of the amount of their investment. Many shareholders have supported DL from the beginning in 1997 without any dividend to date.
The company’s goals are:
- To ensure the protection of the Dunes area as an undeveloped natural area.
- To ensure public access to the Dunes area.
- To provide a protective, mainly woodland, buffer zone between the Dunes and the Community, maintaining and improving the existing 30 acres of woodland and providing additional land for woodland development.
- To enable the continued development of the ecovillage project of the Community to achieve its fullest potential through:
- Physically linking the various parcels of land already involved.
- Making additional land available for appropriate forms of development.
- To ensure a reasonable return to the investors through development, in cooperation with the other partners in the ecovillage project and the community as a whole.
Duneland, adjacent to Findhorn Foundation Community was formally owned by the Wilkie family. At the time of purchase, it was over 400 acres, with a large area of ecologically sensitive dunes, a 30 acres of woodland surrounding Pineridge, and lots of gorse. Much of the southern areas of the land were used by the RAF during the war, with dispersal runways littered through it.
It was offered to the Findhorn Foundation in 1996 by the then owners and was a once in a lifetime opportunity. When the Foundation declined to purchase the land, a group of community members and friends set up Duneland Ltd. We raised the funds and bought the property in May of 1997. Many of the key areas of land owned by the Findhorn Foundation border the estate or are separated by it. As well as the shelterbelt created by the woodland, it connects the various separate areas: the Universal Hall, Cullerne, Pineridge and the Central Area. This area of land has become known as the ‘Magic Triangle’ because of its connecting function. It is approximately 16 acres in size and has significant potential for development in its own right.
The Duneland purchase completes the Findhorn Community’s anticipated collective land holding and provides for the future needs of the ecovillage project, both in terms of amenity land like the woodland and dunes areas, as well as providing some land for building and other settlement functions.
In 2000, after two and a half years of negotiation, Dunelands Ltd. gifted 170 acres of the estate to the Findhorn Dunes Trust, a new body made up of representatives of Findhorn Village as well as the Findhorn Foundation Community. This was an historic alliance, the first time the village and the Community came together in a joint project. This special area of wild nature is now protected and mutually benefits all parties on the Findhorn peninsula.
We are also engaged in woodland regeneration, slowly replacing monoculture, non-indigenous trees with natural woodland and expanding the area of planting. From the time we purchased the land, we removed the old fences. Since then, the Magic Triangle and the woodlands areas have been available for use by the public.