ONE of the UK's top foresters has been recognised with a prestigious honour for his work in Moray. 

Scottish Forestry's David Hay was recently awarded a fellowship from the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), which celebrates an individual's contribution to the profession.

David has worked in SF’s Grampian Conservancy since 2010 and has played a key role in increasing Moray’s woodland cover to 34 per cent, which is much higher than the national 19 per cent average. 

In his current position, his experience and advice is used with managing complex woodland creation proposals, handling forestry grant applications and local woodland development plans. 

“I’m genuinely thrilled and very honoured to become a fellow of the ICF, simply for contributing to a profession and industry that I am so passionate about,” David, who was one of the finalists in the ICF's inaugural Professional Forester of the Year award in 2023, said. “It’s such a privilege to have had this career which has built on the significant legacy of the foresters that have gone before me, as well as those I currently work with to create truly integrated and diverse landscapes.

“Moray is arguably the most afforested county within the UK with 34 per cent forest cover, with a third of this managed under continuous cover approaches. 

"Multi-purpose and adaptable woodlands have underpinned the ethos I have consistently advocated throughout my career, and I’m pleased to see others continuing to progress this.

“This fellowship is something I am very proud of and to be recognised by my peers in this way is truly special.”

David’s career first started in the private sector in Dunoon in 1982 and then in various harvesting, planning and operational forestry work in the then Forestry Commission and Forest Enterprise.

In his career, he has supported a number of Scottish woodland schemes, notably a 600 hectare native woodland at Knockando, which gave multiple environmental and social benefits.

He has also spent time in northern California on an educational exchange looking at the management of a variety of native forest types Including the redwood, Douglas fir/tan oak and Sitka spruce.  

Steven Hutcheon, Scottish Forestry’s Grampian conservator, said: “David’s fellowship is fantastic, and we are all thrilled for him in this recognition. His experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm for helping others progress in forestry is invaluable. We are all delighted for him.”

Forestry Journal: David was one of the finalists in the ICF's inaugural Forester of the Year Award in 2023 David was one of the finalists in the ICF's inaugural Forester of the Year Award in 2023 (Image: Supplied)

Part of David’s passion is to help others learn and much of his time is spent mentoring and training both the local Grampian team in forestry, as well as people from other organisations.

In addition, David oversees the Forestry Development and seedcorn funds in the Grampian region which encourage activities, especially involving young people in woodland environments, as well as representing the Conservancy on the local authority access forums.

He is very active within the local community too and is a STEM ambassador delivering multi- discipline science-based sessions within schools or youth groups.