Introducing the 2021 Skills for Rewilding blog

This is the last year of the Trees for Life Skills for Rewilding programme. Beginning in 2018, Trees for Life has welcomed five trainees each year. We spend 12 months learning practical skills and gaining valuable experience for pursuing a career in the Scottish environmental sector. This project has been made possible through funding provided by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of their “Skills for the Future” programme. This programme has allowed Trees for Life to deliver a total of 15 fully funded placements. They are aimed at addressing the shortage of skills relevant to rewilding, and the underrepresentation of certain groups within Scottish conservation.

Trees for Life welcomed the final cohort of trainees this July, specialising in Tree Nursery Horticulture, Deer Management and Estate Maintenance, Conservation and Landscape Planning, and Digital Marketing. You can learn a bit more about each of us and our respective traineeships here.

Our first month was a whirlwind of new faces and new places, getting to know the rest of the team as well as the land Trees for Life is working to rewild. We’ve all spent some time on the tree nursery, learning about the process of growing native trees from seed.

We’ve been out exploring the Dundreggan estate, visiting historic planting sites and helping to survey new ones. A real highlight for us all was getting to spend a week in Glen Affric staying at the Athnamulloch bothy. It was an incredible experience and one which will be familiar to those of you who have attended a Conservation Week there.

This was my first time visiting Glen Affric. It was breathtaking to see a glen with pockets of remaining forest and promising natural regeneration. The woodland gives a sense of scale and drama that so much of our landscape has lost. It’s easy to see why Glen Affric is often described as the most beautiful glen in Scotland. It serves as a powerful reminder of how much more rich and diverse our land could and should be.

These last few weeks we’ve been settling into our individual roles. Heather and Daniel have taken on responsibility for their own sections in the tree nursery, becoming an integral part of the team. Angus has been working closely with our Deer Manager, accompanying him stalking and getting to grips with the depth of knowledge and skill required in this profession. Grymmsy is always on the move and has been out fence marking, surveying peat depth at potential planting sites and carrying out herbivore impact assessments. I’m working with the marketing team, learning how to engage more people with rewilding and communicating the part Trees for Life has to play. People are central to helping bring back nature. Being able to effectively communicate why rewilding is important is therefore a key part of the journey.

I’ll be writing a trainee blog post every month, so keep an eye out for updates in future editions of Tree News and on social media. Next month we’ll be taking a look at a day in the life of one of our Tree Nursery Horticulture trainees.