RSFS

 The Royal Scottish Forestry Society

...for those who love the forests, woodlands and trees of Scotland

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President's message - Spring 2019

RSFS President, James Hepburne Scott reflects on 2018 and looks forward to an exciting programme for 2019

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President's message - Autumn 2018

Dear members and friends

This summer the Society held 16 really excellent field days. I was able to attend 9 of these and regret it wasn’t more.  I know they have all been first class in terms of learning and sharing knowledge of forestry practice in the best of company.  As usual we have had highly privileged access to some wonderful places, many  of which we would never have visited otherwise.  These days owe everything to the generosity of our hosts, the detailed preparation of their forest managers  and  thorough planning by our regional committees. My thanks to them all.

Among these was a soils training day provided for us by Jens Haufe of Forest Research and held at the Forestry Commission at Ae.  I think this was  a first for the Society.  The day was judged a great success by the 24 who attended. We hope to repeat this round the regions in future.

We had another outstanding whole society 3 day excursion, based in Inverness and brilliantly master-minded by Rod Pimm. Fergus Ewing accepted Rod's invitation to address us on the first morning . Concluding with warm words for the work of the Society, this set us off in fine fettle which maintained throughout. Rod had negotiated reasonable rates at the Culloden House Hotel which made this a thoroughly enjoyable excursion.

In September 8 members joined a study tour in Bavaria with the Royal Forestry Society. This was brilliantly organised for us by John Paterson of Egger Forestry. A report will be in our journal, Scottish Forestry, later this year.

I have been very pleased that more people are coming on these field days including many more younger members whose positive contributions are invaluable. We are grateful for the support of our Corporate Sponsors in encouraging their staff to attend as part of their professional development. This seems to be a win-win for the sponsor and the society.

We have had stands at 4 shows, at Scone, Moy, Drumlanrig and Peebles. These are good opportunities for us to meet members and recruit new ones. The “plant to plank” competition where people have to match the young tree (kindly supplied by Alba trees) to the sawn plank. from Syd House’s collection, has proved a draw and a talking point for show visitors. A half-day stint on the stand is enjoyable and I would invite members to join in next summer. The dates will be in the green card with your Christmas Journal.

George Moore organised another successful clay pigeon shoot at Forrest Estate. Entries from Tilhill, Scottish Woodlands, Forestry Commission Scotland, Stewartry Tree Services and 3 RSFS teams. A great day was had by all who took part. Tilhill won the team prize for 5th year running but only one point ahead of FCS!

The autumn edition of Scottish Forestry featured a reflective image on the cover, “Letter from Home” by Peter Bowsher, picking up the historical theme of many articles in this edition. The WW1 Centenary is commemorated with articles on the impact of the war on forestry and a photo-essay showcasing wood sculptures from Rozelle Park Remembrance Woodland in Ayrshire. Thanks to the work of our editor, Carol Crawford and the contributors, Scottish Forestry once again shows the many ways the RSFS promotes best practice in forest husbandry, forest education and woodland conservation.

As I write, regional committees are completing plans for next year. These will include a number of events to mark the Forestry Commission centenary. Central to these will be the opening of the Centenary Path at Cashel on 16 May, the fourth and final day of the Annual Study Tour (as it will be known in future). Please put 13-16 May in your 2019 diary. More details shortly.

The Society is busier than I have ever known it and new members, individual and corporate are joining. My appeal to all members is " Please find another". I make no apology for repeating this exhortation. New members are vital for our future.


James Hepburne Scott

President's message Q3 2018

Dear Members and Friends,

As I write (13 July) our field visit season is in full swing. We have another excellent programme this year focussing on what we can learn and apply from our hosts' excellent woods.

A recent highlight for me was our visit to Glensaugh, hosted by Donald Barrie who manages the farm for the James Hutton Institute. Our tour stimulated a good discussion on the potential for a significant increase in farm forestry in these changing times for hill farming.

My thanks to all our kind hosts and our regional committees for all the work that goes into arranging these days. We welcome visitors to all our events and we hope this will encourage them to join. There is no qualification needed to become a member, only a love of trees.

You will read about many of these in the regional pages of our Journal, Scottish Forestry.

Special mention must be made of the brilliant Annual Excursion, based on Inverness, organised by Rod Pimm and attended by over 50 members. We were fortunate that Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and the local MSP, addressed us on the first morning. He spoke in very positive terms of the progress that forestry is making in Scotland and the prospects for further growth and expressed warm appreciation of the role of the Society.

Later we had a tour of the brand new £95m Norbord plant at Dalcross which will be able to process approximately 10% of Scotland's timber harvest.

Our three days concluded at Rothiemurchus Estate, owned and managed by the Grant family for 18 generations. Here traditional management of a Highland Estate provides the setting for a very sophisticated modern tourism business providing up to 75 jobs.

For me, the greatest benefit the Society offers is the opportunity to visit an amazing range of places we would never otherwise see. We are given very privileged insight by owners and managers and I think everyone learns something from the discussions that follow.

On 5 June we held a training day on forest soils, led by Jens Haufe and Andy Moffat at Ae. This was attended by 26 people who reported very favourably on what they had learned. We hope to repeat this at other locations next year.

We exhibited again at the Scottish Game Fair which attracts new forestry exhibitors every year. It is now probably the best show for forestry interest in Scotland and we would like to see it grow further. We met lots of members and recruited several new ones.

We will also look forward to seeing members at:

  • The Highland Game Fair , Moy, 3-4 August
  • The Galloway Country Fair, Drumlanrig, 18-19 August
  • The Peebles Wood Market, 20-21 October

Please note in your diary next year's Annual Study Tour, based in Dunoon 12-15 May. An additional day, the 16th, will be held at Cashel our own forest on Loch Lomond, to include the official opening of the new Centennial footpath (to mark the Forestry Commission centenary) and the all-abilities path.

My final word is an exhortation to all members to find at least one more each. This wonderful Society belongs to us all. Many more people deserve to benefit. Please tell them about it.

Dear Members and Visitors,

I am truly fortunate to have inherited the responsibility of President at such an exciting moment in our 168 year history. My predecessor, Pat Hunter-Blair, established a review group to consider the actions required to ensure a successful future for the Society, in particular our financial security. We came up with an action plan comprising 18 points of which 16 are under way and two are work in progress.

The first conclusion of Pat’s review group was that the Society could not rely in future on members’ subscriptions alone. A small fund-raising committee has begun to consider alternative sources of funding for specific  projects  and to maintain our core functions. To this end I appeal to members to consider making an additional annual donation above their subscription and perhaps a legacy on their death. 

For those of us who are passionate about Scotland’s woods and forests I believe that the furtherance of our aims of exploring, learning and sharing knowledge and best practice for the foresters of the future is of the utmost importance and well worthy of our support.  A few key developments in the past three months or so:

  • I have written before about the exciting developments at Cashel  which you will now be able to follow through this website and a dedicated Cashel page in the Journal. This has all been made possible by the financial contribution of the hydro scheme (thanks are due to previous Cashel board members) and to the energy and inspiration of their Chair and Vice Chair;
  • Monitor Woods is on course to be possibly the most exciting development in our history. Again, you will be able to follow, via this website, developments and access the body of knowledge as it gradually builds. There will be regular features in the Journal. As soon as funds permit we intend to appoint a development officer for the project  which will be an important source of practical knowledge for foresters in Scotland and beyond for many years to come; and
  • A notable success for the Society has been leading a group of key industry stakeholders to represent the opposition  across the sector to the Scottish Government (SG)  proposal to turn the Forestry Commission (not Enterprise)  into a Division within government. We will maintain this leadership as we  engage with SG to ensure that the sector can unite harmoniously  behind the new arrangements.

Thank you to all my fellow trustees for their continued support and assistance in trying to deliver a sustainable future for the Society.

James Hepburne Scott
April 2018

President of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society

James Hepburne Scott became the 69th President, of the Society, at the Annual Business Meeting held on the 9th May 2017.

Dear Members,

2017 has been a very successful year for our Society, with over 20 field days and an excellent Annual Excursion in South West Region blessed with glorious sunshine.  We are putting the finishing touches to the 2018 annual programme (see below). You will get a hard copy with the Spring edition of the Journal.  Thank you to all those who have given generously of their time and mileage to make all this happen.

James Hepburne Scott
January 2018