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Aerial view of three large lorries with timber driving on a dirt road alongside a loch

Galloway Forest Park – the largest Forest Park in Britain – is set to star in a new BBC One Scotland documentary series on Monday 8 January at 19.30.   

Filmed over six months, The Forest, follows all the different people and timber related organisations that benefit from Galloway Forest Park, showcasing how the National Forest Estate delivers and supports so many aspects of life.

It is made by Tern TV – the same production team that brought us the popular programmes The Harbour in Aberdeen, The Mountain based around Aviemore and The River in the Scottish Borders.

Old man in green fleece looking at camera

Archie McNeillie, based in Galloway, is one of the key characters in the six part series. Here he gives us an insight into the filming and explains a bit about his role.

You’re a Recreation Forester – what is that?

I oversee all practical forest side of the recreational activity within Galloway Forest Park which includes activities such as maintenance of facilities, mountain biking, car rallies, running events, army exercises, basically all the fun aspects in the forest, excluding the visitor centers.

What’s your working day like? 

Since I live in the north of the Park in Ayrshire, my day starts at Straiton outstation where I have a team of three and I give out instructions for work to be done. From there I move throughout the forest, managing and meeting people during the day. In the south of the park, I manage six people, one who also manages the deer and goat park. 

Can you tell me about your favourite place within the Galloway Forest Park? What’s special about it? 

Glentrool as it has so many hidden gems.  

Large polished stones engraved with runes lying in bracken on a hillside above a loch
What motivates you each day? 

Getting up and into the countryside every morning regardless of the weather. Each day is different which means there is no mundane routine to get you down!

What do you love about work?  

All the variety that comes with the job.

What brings you to a forest when you’re not working?

Peace, wildlife, landscapes.   

How many FES staff were involved during the filming and what expertise do they provide? 

There were 4 of the northern team involved regularly in the filming and one other on a special feature about the deer range. All have different talents and skills. One in particular we call our Swiss army knife as he can or thinks he can do everything, which he pretty well can but don’t tell him that. Our Deer Range Manager has specialist skills in the handling of our red deer and wild goats. The others have all been trained in multiple tools from chainsaws to diggers and dumpers. I take great pride in my team and how they have all worked hard to gain additional skills that keep the forest park in operation 12 months of the year. 

Two men in hi-vis jackets and helmets pose with a chainsaw in front of the camera
Can you tell me about some highlights of the filming for you personally?  

The path construction at Fairy Knowl trail, Barr Village, using granite boulders to create a staircase up a spine ridge to get to top of a gully. And 

convincing harvesting operators to leave specimen trees standing adjacent to walking trails for landscape and amenity purposes.  

What was the best part of the filming process?  

Other than forestry, when film crew came to my house and filmed my hobby, racing pigeons following this year’s youngster’s from egg to flight

The films are still running for the next few weeks and are available to watch on catch up. Why should we tune in?

To find out what goes on in a forest and how it all functions day to day. Also to show just how important those big green swathes are to the wider community and what they do to support Scotland’s economy.