FIFTEEN nature enthusiasts wil be trained in wild forest restoration skills in Scotland thanks to a £376,800 cash boost to charity Trees for Life.
The grant from the Heritage Lottery Funds ‘Skills for the Future’ programme will train 15 people over a three-year period.
Steve Micklewright, chief exutive officer of Trees for Life, said: “There is a shortage of people who are able to manage estates to bring back natural forests and wildlife to the Highlands.
“This funding will help us train people in these skills, bringing new employment opportunities to local people and to fill the skills gap.”
Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “We know that our Skills for the Future programme is driving successful and lasting change.
“It’s providing a much-needed pool of talented people who will be the future guardians of the heritage sector, ensuring that it continues to flourish.
“By pairing trainees with experts, they gain access to specialist knowledge plus practical, paid, on-the-job experience. It’s simple yet highly effective, but requires funding which we are delighted to provide.”
Trees for Life will recruit five trainees each year for three years, starting in 2018. Over the course of a year, the trainees will have the opportunity to learn and develop the essential skills needed to save the Caledonian Forest – a type of woodland found only in the Highlands of Scotland.
They will receive training in specialist tree propagation, deer management, native forest management, and wildlife monitoring.
Mr Micklewright added: “We will be looking in particular for a broad range of trainees – especially young people from the Highlands, women, and people seeking a career change – to increase the diversity of people working in Highland estate management.”
The training will be based at Trees for Life’s flagship Dundreggan Conservation Estate and will be accredited by the University of the Highlands and Islands. The award-winning charity is working to restore the native Caledonian Forest and its unique wildlife to the spectacular Highlands of Scotland, including to its 10,000-acre Dundreggan Conservation Estate.