THE booming forestry industry has been given a boost with the formal unveiling of a new Scottish School of Forestry in the Highlands
The new Inverness College UHI facility based at Balloch, on the outskirts of the city, will receive over 150 students annually.
In a recent report from the Forestry Commission the industry is now valued as being worth over £1 billion to the Scottish economy – up from £670 million in 2008.
The sector, which includes forest management, timber processing, tourism and recreation, is also believed to support over 25,000 jobs across Scotland – an increase of around 50 per cent in seven years.
Special guest Ian Ross OBE, chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland’s National Forest Land Scheme Assessment Panel, officially declared the building open.
A former lecturer at the facility, he led the development of its first degree course which launched in 1996.
Diane Rawlinson, principal and chief executive at Inverness College UHI, said: “Inverness College UHI is one of the UK’s leading providers of forestry training and education, so it is only fitting that we should have a first class building and learning environment in which to develop the next generation of specialists.
“This industry is of growing importance to the Scottish economy and will generate new business opportunities and jobs for the future.”
Established in the 1970s, the Scottish School of Forestry is the principal institution for forestry and arboriculture training and education in Scotland.
Qualifications on offer range from certificate to degree level, providing training and research opportunities in areas such as arboriculture and urban forestry, conservation skills, land-based engineering and sustainable forest management.
As part of its commitment to delivering a current and relevant curriculum, forestry students in the second year of both the HND and the Sustainable Forestry Management degree programme complete a one year industry placement with a forestry employer.
Having leased the site from the Forestry Commission in 1972 and then taking ownership in the early nineties, the school sits in its own 10 hectare woodland in Balloch, making it the only forestry training provider in Scotland with its own practical training environment.
The school’s attractive new Scottish larch-clad building provides an inspiring modern environment for students, with flexible classrooms and digital training facilities including video conferencing. Students also have access to first class laboratory facilities in the College’s main building at Inverness Campus.
In addition, students will benefit from the development of the school’s very own arboretum, which it plans to establish at the grounds of the former building.
Inverness College UHI has been in operation for over 50 years and is an integral part of the local community.
Home to more than 6,500 students with around 200 courses on offer across nearly 30 subject areas, the College offers flexible learning methods to suit a wide variety of student needs and locations.
Inverness College UHI is the biggest in a group of 13 individual colleges and research institutions collectively known as the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The institution, which delivers courses tailored to the needs of the local business community, relocated to its new multi-million pound facility at Inverness Campus this August.