2019 Applications are now closed. 2020 applications will open in spring 2020.

The Trees for Life Skills for Rewilding programme is an amazing opportunity for five people each year to spend 12 months, fully funded, learning  practical skills required to gain employment in the environmental sector. Training is provided by highly qualified mentors ensuring that the 12 month placements along with the associated qualifications give a real boost to trainees employability at the end of the programme.

Trainees choose to specialise in one of the following areas

  • Tree nursery horticulture
  • Deer management and estate maintenance
  • Conservation and landscape planning
  • Community engagement

The qualifications linked to each traineeship do not require attendance at college, as a portfolio of evidence is gathered whilst carrying out the practical work. They are accredited by the University of the Highlands and Islands or a similar industry recognised organisations.

The training is mostly based at Dundreggan, the Trees for Life estate in Glenmoriston. There are also opportunities for trainees to go on external placements with partner organisations such as the RSPB and Scottish National Heritage, giving them the chance to broaden their experiences whilst also forming links with potential employers.

This project is made possible through funding provided by The National Lottery Heritage Fund “Skills for the Future” programme, which helps organisations deliver fully funded placements to meet skills shortages and diversify the workforce in the heritage sector. With these objectives in mind we encourage applications from young local people, women who favour roles which have historically had a gender imbalance towards men and individuals who hope to make a career change later in life. These groups have been identified as being poorly represented in the Scottish nature conservation workforce at the moment.

Recruitment for the project starts in the spring of each year, with 5 trainees starting their training in July 2018, 2019, and 2020. Applications for the next available trainee positions will open in Spring 2020.

To register your interest and to stay up-to-date email traineeships@treesforlife.org.uk

2019 Trainees

Catriona – Conservation and landscape planning trainee

I was brought up in the Highlands and have always had a keen interest in the natural world and the environment around me. I spent the last two years studying in Norway where they have no shortage of trees and I was inspired by the landscape and the many different ways in which they can use it. I am very excited about the possibility of learning about the landscape we have here in Scotland and how we can promote the regeneration of the forests and woodlands in a beneficial way to both landowners and the ecosystems that should be present here.

Eilidh – Tree nursery horticulture trainee

I lived in Gairloch, Wester Ross for most of my life. I have always enjoyed being outdoors. This is where I’d much rather be. Since leaving school I have done a woodland operations college course, worked at a riding centre and volunteered with ‘Riding for the Disabled’ and at Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve. It gave me the idea of working with Trees for Life. I don’t think there is anything more important for planet Earth than planting trees so I’m very grateful to have this opportunity.

Graham – Community engagement trainee

Before joining the traineeship, I worked in retail and volunteered with a local charity. I recognised that although I enjoyed helping and engaging with people, I also wanted to work in an outdoor environment where I could develop my interest in nature and conservation. I am excited about the prospect of being involved with Trees for Life. I am looking forward to working with the local community and developing my skills and knowledge which will stand me in good stead for a future career.

Heather – Deer and estate maintenance trainee

After having had various indoor jobs, I never really felt settled and I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors. This traineeship will help give me the foundations for what could be a fantastic future. During my time with Trees for Life I will be working towards my Level 1 Deer Stalking Certificate, a chainsaw qualification, completing outdoor first aid training and getting hands on experience with the deer stalker on the estate. Although it’s only the beginning of the traineeship I’m looking forward to experiencing all that it has to offer.

Louise – Tree nursery horticulture trainee

I wanted to work in conservation because the warming climate and degrading biosphere is the most pressing issue of our time. I also have always had a great interest in the Highlands and am excited at the opportunity to work with an organisation that is regenerating the forests and wildlife.


2018 Trainees

Callum – Deer and Estate Management trainee

I was working indoors as a painter and decorator and I felt like I wasn’t in the right place and wanted to work outdoors. So far in the traineeship I have had the unique opportunity to work with the Trees for Life deer manager who has around 30 years of experience. A normal day for me would be working directly with the deer management team learning hands on skills in deer stalking and estate management. I am working towards the Deer Stalking Certificate 1 as well as completing a chainsaw qualification. These qualifications along with the practical skills I’m gaining will help me go forward and obtain a career in this sector.

Georgie – Forestry and Land Management trainee

Prior to joining Trees for Life I was working in the commercial forestry sector, but felt I wanted more of an ecological focus in my work. The traineeship has provided me with the opportunity to develop my knowledge and understanding of native woodland restoration and management. I am helping to develop new planting schemes and manage woodlands in a way that prioritises ecosystem functions and delivers a wide range of benefits to both the environment and people. Working with Trees for Life has allowed me to make a significant change in my career direction and to gain incredibly valuable experience.

Nick – Tree Nursery and Horticulture trainee

Before moving to the highlands I was working in Devon and volunteering with a tree planting charity. I studied History and cultural studies at University and since graduating in 2008 I have done a variety of jobs. I developed an interest in horticulture and began volunteering and learning new skills. I found this work enjoyable and rewarding and I feel very lucky to be gaining professional training in a specialist tree nursery. The traineeship will provide me with skills and a diverse range of experiences that will be of benefit in future employment.

Rhona – Community Engagement trainee

After 8 years of working in the NHS, I decided that I would like to try a career change. I’d always been interested in conservation and environmental work, and felt that my experience of working with people and communities would transfer well to learning about community engagement with Trees for Life.

So far I’ve working on a variety of outdoor projects with adults and children. There have been opportunities to help with events and tours held on Dundreggan estate and at other local projects. It is an exciting time to be involved with Trees for Life, as they are expanding their community engagement outreach and connections with local people.

Tim – Tree Nursery and Horticulture trainee

Having previously studied and worked in Hospitality I decided that I’d prefer to spend more time outside than in. I have always had an interest in nature and the work that Trees for Life are doing to restore the Caledonian forest. Working in the tree nursery is a fantastic opportunity to develop skills that will allow me to progress a career in a similar role. I really enjoy my day to day work on the nursery and I am continuously learning how to grow the various trees species that make up the native forests of Scotland.

Questions and answers about Skills for Rewilding traineeships:

Please be aware that the trainee programme is continually evolving, so some things may change slightly. None-the-less we’re confident that the information below will give you a good guide on our traineeships.


What’s the aim of the traineeship?

To give trainees the knowledge, skills and practical experience that will enable them to go on and gain employment working on landscape scale ecological restoration projects to ‘rewild’ parts of the Scottish Highlands. This includes using newer nature conservation techniques and more traditional rural estate skills in conjunction with each other to achieve ‘rewilding’.


What is the format of the traineeship?

This is NOT a taught, academic, classroom-based traineeship. It is a work experience based ‘learning by doing’ traineeship where trainees will learn from Trees for Life staff through a wide variety of tasks associated with ‘rewilding’ Dundreggan, Trees for Life’s Highland estate.

Trainees will also get the opportunity to go on short placements with other organisations (such as RSPB or Scottish Natural Heritage) that are involved with woodland restoration and land management. These placements are intended to allow trainees to see how other organisations operate, the types of work going on across the sector, and to create links that might help them with their future careers.


Where is the Dundreggan Conservation Estate?

Dundreggan is in Glenmoriston, on the A887 between Invermoriston and Loch Cluaine.

Be aware that Dundreggan is a remote location, with poor mobile phone and internet reception. The nearest local centres (i.e. providing shop, pub, activities etc.) are at least a ½ hours’ drive away. Trainees find having access to their own vehicle helps to feel more connected to the outside world, as public transport is scarce and expensive.


What would trainees be doing day to day on the traineeship?

The tasks at Dundreggan are mostly active, outdoors and subject to seasonal variation. Trainees need to be prepared to get their hands dirty, work in all weathers, and deal with the midges!

Trainees might be…

  • Helping to grow on young trees from seed or root cuttings in the tree nursery
  • Getting involved in landscape assessments and the monitoring of plants and animals
  • Assisting the deer manager (i.e. stalking, shooting, carcass handling)
  • Working with volunteers to plant trees at ‘rewilding’ project sites
  • Helping to build relationships with communities and schools through creative projects
  • Out on short placements with other organisations in relevant sectors

Trainees get the opportunity to try a variety of these things, and others, but over the training year trainees will concentrate on one of the four specific skills areas available, either:

  • Tree nursery horticulture
  • Deer management and estate maintenance
  • People and community engagement
  • Conservation and landscape management


Is there a qualification for completing the traineeship?


Tree Nursery and Horticulture trainees will work towards a SVQ Level 2 in Horticulture.

The Deer Management and Estate Maintenance trainee will work towards Deer Stalking Certificate Level 1 + Chainsaw and All-Terrain Vehicle (Argo) certification.

The Community Engagement trainee will work towards Scottish Countryside Rangers’ Association Foundation Level with an opportunity to do additional qualification that supports learning.

The Conservation and Landscape Management trainee will work towards SVQ level 2 in Environmental Conservation.

These entry level  qualifications are only a part of the traineeship though. The practical experience gained through 12 months of learning from professional mentors is really valuable. Hands on experience is highly sought after by employers.


How long is the traineeship?

The traineeships are twelve months long, starting in July each year. Trees for Life will run traineeships annually for 3 consecutive years (2018, 2019, 2020). A usual training week would be 4 days in 7, to sometimes include weekends (flexibility is needed to fit in with seasonal busy periods). In addition to the 4 days, 1 day a week trainees will work towards their qualification.


Is there a holiday entitlement?

Yes, all trainees will have 7 weeks holiday, including public holidays. 4 weeks holiday will be specified and will include the Christmas period when Trees for Life is closed. Three weeks will be flexible.


What support will be available to me whilst I’m on the traineeship?

There will be a full time ‘Training Programme Manager’ to coordinate all aspects of the traineeship and provide support and guidance to the trainees. There will also be support available from the qualification providers.


Will Trees for Life give trainees a job when the traineeship is completed?

There is no guarantee of a job with Trees for Life at the end of the traineeship but if roles in Trees for Life were to become available we would be pleased if a trainee applied for them. Trees for Life will also provide help to trainees with job applications, CV writing and preparing for interviews.


Is there money available to support trainees?

Yes, there is a bursary payment of £7,450 per trainee to cover living expenses. This will be given to the trainees in 12 even instalments throughout the year. Also qualification fees are paid plus there is a clothing and travel allowance per trainee. In addition, we will offer a £500 bonus available for successful completion of the traineeship.


Is accommodation provided?

Shared accommodation is available FREE on-site at Dundreggan for some trainees. Alternatively, a monetary contribution of up to £2000 may be added to the bursary payment to help with accommodation and travel from an off-site location.

Be aware that Dundreggan is a remote location, with poor mobile phone and internet reception, and the nearest local centres (i.e. providing shop, pub, activities etc.) are at least a ½ hours’ drive away. There is very little off site accomodation available nearby, so it might be necessary for us to accomodate 5 trainees in the shared accomodation. If 3 trainees need to live on site there would individual bedrooms, if 5 trainees need to live on site there will be a requirement to share same sex bedrooms (max occupancy 2). We will not know whether sharing of bedrooms is required until the end of the recruitment process.


What are the application criteria for the traineeship?

To apply you must reside in the UK and be at least 18 years old by the start of the traineeship. These traineeships can not be used as placements for academic courses.

A full driving licence is essential for most traineeships.

A lack of diversity has been identified within the nature conservation workforce, so we are particularly keen to receive applications from people in the following groups:

  • Young (under 25) local people who want a career in rural skills
  • Women looking to work in traditionally male dominated roles
  • Career changers who now want to work in ecological restoration

If you do not fit these profiles please still apply and your application will be given equal consideration.


Securing support from the National Lottery

In 2017 Trees for Life successfully secured £376,800 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver a paid work-based training programme to fifteen individuals over three years. The money raised by National Lottery players is being used to support people with high quality on-the-job training that will lead them on to employment in the natural heritage sector. The funding aims to help address a lack of diversity and to fill identified skills shortages in the heritage workforce.

Paul Greaves the Skills for Rewilding Training Programme Manager says, ‘We are delighted to have received this support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is enabling us to provide the practical skills training and experience that people need when wanting to start a career that will have a positive impact on the natural environment of Scotland.’