BUTE’S community-owned forest has two new members of staff – graduate forester Ben Robinson and forestry assistant Owen Patterson Walker.
Ben is currently completing a masters degree in environmental forestry at Bangor University in north Wales, and will take up his post on Bute at the end of July – but not before he has travelled to, of all places, Papua New Guinea to write a thesis on a community forest there.
Ben grew up near the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, and is also a member of the Community Woodland Network – the equivalent of the Community Woodlands Association in Scotland.
“Before I heard about the job on Bute I didn’t have a great deal of knowledge of the island,” he admitted during a brief interview with The Buteman, “but I’m learning a bit about its history and about the links it has with Glasgow, which I would equate in some ways with the relationship between Brighton and London.
“Growing up near the Forest of Dean gave me the chance to experience living and working in a woodland environment from a very early age, although the Bute post is my first ‘career job’ in forestry.”
Owen, meanwhile, has already started work alongside Bute Forest Ltd director and professional forester Richard Matts.
A former Rothesay Academy pupil, Owen has worked in land management since he left school, most recently on the Glen Prosen sporting estate in Angus, where he was responsible for day-to-day estate maintenance and deer and grouse management, and on the Allargue estate in Aberdeenshire.
“My dad works in land management so I learned a lot from him,” Owen said. “A lot of what we did on the Allargue estate is similar to what we’ll be doing in the Bute Forest, such as selling wood and products made from the wood and so on.”