Trainee Focus – Graham, Community Engagement

Here, we speak with Community Engagement trainee Graham to find out how he’s getting on.

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.


What did you know about rewilding before you started at Trees for Life?

Having had a passion for conservation and nature from a young age, I was keenly aware of the threats to certain species. Conserving and protecting species such as the Red Squirrel has been something I have been involved with before my time at Trees for Life. To me, rewilding is about restoring and protecting some of our most precious environments. My time at Trees for Life has shown me that there is more to rewilding than simply planting trees. People, the economy and ecological factors all come into play.


How does your role fit into the wider rewilding landscape?

As the community engagement trainee, I think that the role fits into getting members of the local and wider community involved with the process of rewilding. Whether it’s educating school children on the destructive impact deer have on the forest’s ability to naturally regenerate, or getting adults to commit to tree planting on one of our Conservation Weeks – the possibilities are endless!


What has been the highlight of your traineeship so far?

My highlight so far has been spending a week in Glen Affric on a Conservation Week. Seeing a sea eagle for the first time was spectacular!


What has been the biggest surprise?

The biggest surprise has been getting used to living at Dundreggan, primarily the isolation. As someone used to doing things in the evenings, such as rock climbing or going out with friends, it takes a bit getting used to.


The Trees for Life values are: ground-breaking; collaborative; and pragmatic. How do you see yourself exploring these values through your traineeship?

Ground breaking – Being involved with the red squirrel translocations taking place in the North West Highlands – some areas have been without red squirrels for over 50 years!

Collaborative – By cooperating with schools working on projects such as green spaces/wild gardens around schools.

Pragmatic – Taking a more practical approach to the community engagement role. Actively involving the local community in what we are doing. A more ‘present’ approach such as community council meetings and open days at Dundreggan.


The Skills for Rewilding programme is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.