IT'S common knowledge that trees are vital to our survival.

And with the planet changing rapidly due to climate change and the biodiversity crisis, the disciplines of forestry, arboriculture and urban forestry have equally vital roles to play in our future.

Forests (including urban forests) regulate our ecosystems. They protect and enhance biodiversity and capture and store large amounts of carbon dioxide, the gas which – when emitted to excess – is responsible for our warming planet.

(Image: SRUC)

The urban forest will play a crucial role in our future cities, contributing both to the circular economy and climate mitigation, with trees estimated to meet 15 of the 17 internationally supported United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In Scotland, woodland and forests (including urban forests) cover nearly a fifth of our total land mass, the highest level in the UK, although still well short of the European average of 38 per cent.

However, this figure is going to increase markedly over the next few years, through reforestation and rewilding programmes.

And with timber among the most valuable construction materials, we must reduce the current imported level of 80 per cent to meet the increased demand and avoid the exploitation of forests worldwide.

The forestry and arboriculture programme delivered from the Barony Campus at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) will help to address these climatic concerns.

(Image: SRUC)

It will also help address a skills shortage through training the foresters and arborists of the future with courses ranging from pre-apprentice in work readiness through to the Higher National Diploma in Forestry.

The forestry team is currently expanding its full-time courses, with the first higher education programme in arboriculture and urban forestry due next year.

We also provide short course training to professionals in industry and young graduates, such as the recent collaborative graduate scheme between Tilhill’s education arm, the Foresight Sustainable Forestry: Skills Training Programme and the SRUC Skills Academy.

Alongside practical courses, we are developing higher education short courses, including wood decay and hazard assessment of trees, tree canopy access training, and the use of drones in forestry for beginners and our most recent “Tree climbing and Aerial Rescue” commencing July 22nd at our Barony Campus, Dumfries.

SRUC is in the enviable position to meet forestry challenges of the future through flexibility and a diverse skillset – key requirements in a rapidly changing world. To find out more about studying at SRUC, visit and for more information on our short courses, email: