By Susan Swarbrick
Ben Quarcoo, operations forester for Forestry and Land Scotland
I HAVE worked in forestry for 14 years and cover the central belt stretching all the way from South Lanarkshire up towards Stirling.
My area includes Whitelee Forest at Eaglesham Moor, the Kilpatrick Hills, Lennox Forest, the Campsie Fells and into the Carron Valley. Most of the land isn’t within high population areas, but there are some woods in or around towns or cities such as Cardowan Moss in Easterhouse, Drumchapel Woods and Greenoakhill near Glasgow.
I was born and grew up in Ghana. It is in the tropical belt and the persistent heavy downpours – there is only a short dry season – help to create broad-ranging diversity. The trees grow almost year-round, but here in Scotland we have two distinct growing seasons: spring and summer.
Before moving to the UK, I worked for the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi where I researched forest management, soil civilisation, tree establishment and water catchment quality. I completed a master’s degree in environmental forestry management at Bangor University in Wales and joined Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forest Enterprise Scotland.
My role involves everything from ensuring ground conditions are well prepared to managing drainage. There are utility services across the forest estate with gas pipelines, underground cables, water supplies and overhead powerlines all criss-crossing, so you need to know what you are doing and where you are digging. We construct firebreaks – clearing a strip of open space at least five metres wide – so that if wildfire breaks out it can’t quickly ravage the forest.
WATCH: Scientists protect a vast carbon store by chopping down millions of trees in Scotland.
By Andrew Arbuckle
Farming and forestry have traditionally been at odds over the use of land but moves are being made to bridge the gap by increased forestry grants for landowners facing an otherwise uncertain rural future.
Specialists from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have urged farmers and land managers in the north of Scotland to think hard about how woodlands could fit into their future plans and what recent changes in the Scottish Government grants available could mean for them.
Douglas Priest, a forestry specialist with SAC Consulting, which is part of SRUC, said that, within the new “Native Woodland Target Area” for Highland Scotland there were higher payments available for establishing native Scots pine, upland birch and broadleaves.
“In essence the forestry grant scheme payments for these have been increased by £400 per hectare, with additional help for deer fencing and bracken control,” he said.
“There are a multitude of reasons why so many areas of the Highlands would benefit from woodland cover and this is a great time to think seriously about it. We can help with technical forestry advice and [with] the application process.”
Compared with many places in the rest of Europe, Scotland, at 17 per cent, has very low forest cover but this is expected to rise with the governments’ target of planting 15,000 hectares a year by 2025.