In comparison to the statistics of hutting in Norway – where it is considered central to family life and more than half the population has access to a hut in which they can escape and reconnect with nature – records show that in 2000 in Scotland there were only 650 cabins or self-made homes available to a population of 5 million.
With these statistics at the forefront of their minds, and the constant depletion of current hutters dwellings across Scotland occurring, 'A Thousand Huts' aims to provide 1000 newly built huts in Scotland's woodland and forest over the next 5 years, and to develop, organise and promote resourceful hut designs and building techniques. In doing so, Reforesting Scotland aims to increase awareness around sustainable living and provide a form of affordable, practical and sustainable housing for individuals and families. However, restrictions in building laws are where problems begin to arise for these goals, and through this campaign they seek to gain a 'Hutting Consent'. This will develop models of legal land tenure to help provide individuals, who wish to pursue hutting by building their own cabin, the freedom to do so within the rights of the law.
Reforesting Scotland director Ninjan Stuart stated in an article in the Scottish Herald that 'for many, a hut represents a simple place for work or play, whilst for more serious hutters it represents a fundamental need for shelter'. If hutting can successfully expand, it could be a means of supporting recreational opportunities in the form of adventure groups, and also promote of woodland management and building skills. It would make an early contribution to the re-growth of vibrant woodland culture, the regeneration of rural communities, and provide people who would otherwise be unable to afford a retreat in the countryside an affordable way to reconnect with the land.
The origins of hutting
Hutting in Scotland began as part of the working class movement in the late 20th Century when wooden cabins began popping up around the countryside on the outskirts of larger cities and served as a means of cheap and practical living. With little money in their pockets, people were buying shares of land and building cabins as not only a means of shelter but also a powerful message of freedom and independence. For them it symbolised an act of reclaiming their lives and humanity after the dehumanising conditions of working in the industrial boom, and being subjected to the intense labour conditions at the factory.
Despite the reputation that hutting and its dwellers have gained in the past due to land permission issues and rental increase strikes, the qualities that lie at the heart of 'A Thousand Huts' campaign are to provide people with the permission to build inspiring communities, homes, and relationships with nature that help restore and rejuvenate quality of life.
For more information http://www.reforestingscotland.org/projects/huts.php