SCOTLAND'S Environment Minister has hailed the success of one forestry firm's graduate development programme. 

Màiri McAllan sung the praises of Scottish Woodland's 'home-grown vision for the future', which has seen 43 recruits join the training scheme since it was launched in 2017. A total of 85 per cent of those who have completed the course remain employed by the company. 

Ms McAllan recently met with participants at a training event at the Dakota Hotel, South Queensferry, to mark the programme's fifth anniversary. 

READ MORE: Future forestry leaders back Scottish Woodlands grad scheme

She said: “I enjoyed my time in Perthshire in February, visiting Scottish Woodlands’ Knowes & Keltie planting site and seeing first-hand the vital contribution of modern productive forests to our environment and economy.

“I heard about the company’s graduate training programme that day - and I was delighted to be able to attend the training.

"Forestry is an industry where Scotland leads the way in the UK, with around 80 per cent of all new tree planting. We can justifiably be proud of this, but we need to continue building to ensure future success.

“That’s why creative graduate programmes like this are so important - to bring more young people into Scotland’s growing forestry industry, giving them practical, hands-on experience to develop their skills as our future leaders of this green, Scottish industry.”

The Scottish Woodlands training day also included sessions on the Forestry Grant Scheme, community consultation, investment forestry, forest economics, and woodland creation and environmental best practice.

Ralland Browne, managing director of Scottish Woodlands, said: “We believe more trees - and more future managers and leaders - should be home-grown.

“Forestry is a rapidly-growing profession and we need more skilled people in all areas of our business." 

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Mr Browne added: “We are delighted with the success of our graduate programme so far - 85 per cent of those who have completed the programme are still with us. Our 2022 intake are joining us throughout June and July and I look forward to welcoming ten new and impressive young people onto the scheme - and growing more of those future leaders.”

The new graduate recruits will work in a variety of locations and learn about forest planning, new woodland creation, timber harvesting, grant applications, working with contractors, forestry finance and much more.

Pippa Paterson, a rural surveyor who joined the graduate development programme in September 2020 and is based in Perth, said: “I’ve loved all the different elements of the programme. I’m a very practically-minded person, so the idea of learning as you go really appealed to me."