Best New Planting Application Report Prize Winner Q & A

Scottish School of Forestry student Alasdair Sangster at Inverness College recently won the Tilhill Forestry Award for Best New Planting Application following a report he prepared on woodland creation in his forestry policy and law module.

Tilhill Forestry spoke to Alasdair to gain an insight into his course in HND Forestry Management and his award winning report.

How old are you? Where are you from?

I am 28 years old and originally from Helmsdale. I have lived in many places throughout my life, including Sweden for half a year when I finished secondary school. I then lived in Aberdeen for five years, before moving back to the Highlands. I currently live in Inverness.

What did the best new planting application project consist of and what was your focus?

The project consisted of a case study and operational plan for what would be an ex-agricultural site located in the Highlands. My proposal was to create a site with a mixture of productive conifers with Caledonian Scots Pine as the predominant species, and a native woodland planting consisting of Scots Pine and Native Broadleaf species. The long-term view of my proposal was to have an area of high-quality timber production while simultaneously benefitting the local community and environment. My focus was to try and optimise the opportunities the land had to offer. The project would be funded using the Forestry Grant Scheme.

What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future aren’t set in stone. Currently, I work for Scottish Forestry, after having had my mid-year placement there and having been lucky enough to gain a more permanent position. Currently I deal with advice, policy and regulations, and my immediate thoughts are to continue on my path to becoming a Woodland Officer. However, I would also be interested on taking on a Forest Manager Stewardship Forester or Forestry Works Manager role if the opportunity arose.

How does it feel to win the award and what do you think were the main reasons for you winning?
I’m absolutely delighted to win the Tilhill Forestry Award for Best New Planting Application Project. It has come as a shock as I wasn’t really expecting to win. I think perhaps the reason my proposal was chosen was because I have such a broad interest in forestry in general and tried to deliver as many benefits as I could.

My plan hit the strategic priorities of both the Scottish Government and the Highland Council while delivering timber to the industry and creating habitat for local wildlife. That being said, it must have been very difficult for the panel to choose the winner as my classmates are all very talented.

What are your thoughts on UHI and your lecturers? Do you have any advice for anyone looking to do the same course as you?

The UHI has been superb in their support of my studies. The classes are relevant to the industry and give the practical and theoretical skills required to enter a job and carry out the role competently. The lecturers are fantastic with a wealth of knowledge from working in varying aspects of the industry. My advice to those wanting to study forestry in the UHI is to make use of this experience; ask questions often. Some of the most valuable information I have learned was through discussions in class, whether it is elaborating a point or learning from the lecturer’s wealth of experience.

Also, the mid-year work placement is, in my opinion, one of the best things about studying forestry at the UHI. Being able to get industry specific experience, your name out into the industry and show a potential employer what you are capable of makes such a difference when you are looking to form a career or move into this industry.