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6 Feb 2019

Forestry students get hands on at Threave

SRUC Barony students
A group of 15 Forestry students and two lecturers from Scotland’s Rural College enjoyed a productive day with the expert team at Threave Garden & Estate.

It was like a blast from the past for Threave Estate Supervisor, David Thompson, this week. He was hosting a group of 15 Forestry students and two lecturers from Scotland’s Rural College Barony Campus, only to find one of the group’s teachers was a former lecturer of his! Tom Karas MBE taught David at the college back in 1989.

The students are currently working towards a Certificate in Forestry, gaining skills and knowledge in the industry, with ambitions to move into arboriculture, forestry contracting, estate work and ranger/conservation-based work.

SRUC Barony lecturer, Tom Karas MBE
SRUC Barony lecturer, Tom Karas MBE

The day started off with a 30-minute walk to the osprey platform with James Hutchinson (Visitor Services Supervisor) and James Baylis (Seasonal Estate Worker), before heading over to David at Keltonhill Wood.

After a talk about the work involved at Threave Garden & Estate, as well as at the Trust’s other Dumfries & Galloway properties, it was down to business tackling some large windblown hardwoods, brought down during Storm Ali. David had prepared the site earlier that morning, with the help of James Garbutt from Stewartry Tree Services.

SRUC Barony students ready to begin work
Ready to begin work

Health and safety was discussed in detail, looking over risk assessments and examining the site and its dangers, before splitting into three groups. Nine chainsaws were in operation at any one time, with the students taking turns on the saws while the others stacked.

A huge amount was accomplished and it’s hoped that this is the start of a new working relationship.

Here’s what some of the participants thought:

Tom Karas MBE (lecturer)
‘Coming to Threave is a chance for the students to put what they have learned into practice. It is good for the students to meet new people within the Forestry industry and see a working estate. Threave is a place you can often drive past, but in my retirement I hope to come back as a visitor and maybe do some volunteering.’

SRUC Barony students using chainsaws
Using chainsaws

Seanin (student)
‘Glad to be here seeing the estate and meeting new people. Today, I have learned it would be good for me to have a wide range of skills and knowledge as my ambition is to become a ranger. Working here today is great for my CV and I am definitely interested in coming back for work experience, as a volunteer and perhaps a career in the Trust.’

Craig (student)
‘Good to get more experience on different sites and working in different scenarios. Today, I have learned how to dismantle each individual tree in a safe and efficient manner. It’s cool to meet new people and get contacts which will help my career.’

Craig W (student)
‘I have been coming to Threave and working with the Estate Supervisor for a few weeks as a volunteer and for work experience. I am now back at College and today I have learned a lot about the dangers of working in Forestry and what I can do to reduce those dangers. I have enjoyed my time and hope to come back. My aim as a career is to become an arborist.’

SRUC Barony students tackling large windblown hardwoods
Tackling large windblown hardwoods

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