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View over a small loch to a heavily forested hillside

The Forest, BBC One Scotland’s new six part documentary series, returns to the screens tonight following the different people and timber related organisations that benefit from Galloway Forest Park.

Man with large brown beard smiling for the cameraOur Environment Forester, Gareth Ventress, was involved with the filming. Here he explains a bit about his role and gives us an insight into the filming.

You’re an Environment Forester – what is that? What’s your working day like? 

I help ensure that protected wildlife species are not disturbed during forest operations and that suitable habitat remains available for them to thrive.  I also help to protect and restore important priority habitats like peat bogs, ancient woodlands and cultural heritage features like the scheduled ancient monument Neolithic chambered cairns found throughout Galloway Forest District.

I don’t have a typical day. I may be out in the forest surveying a Plantation on Ancient Woodland for restoration, checking health and safety with contractors, or carrying out a licensed specialist protected species survey like monitoring camera traps at a pine marten den prior to forestry operations.  I am, however, just as likely to be in the office writing management plans or doing procurement paperwork (although I try limit this to rainy days if I can!)

Close up of small brown-furred animal (Pine Marten) holding a pup in it's mouth

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

 There are definitely a few places at different times of year that stand out.

What motivates you each day? What do you love about work?

I love the opportunity to be able to make a real change to priority habitats, for example seeing ancient woodland sites stabilize and flourish under restoration from the native ground flora. 

I also love that I may see some of our rarer wildlife in areas not often disturbed by human activity.  For me, that’s both the motivation and everything I love about my work. 

Can you tell me about some highlights of the filming for you personally?  

Emma (the camera woman) was filming me marking a badger sett out prior to restocking (to make sure it is protected from any machinery).  The site was on a fairly steep slope covered in brash and debris from the tree harvesting a couple of years earlier.  I kept on losing my footing on the slope but because Emma’s couldn’t walk and film at the same time I don’t think she managed to film any of my slips!  Just as we were finishing and starting back down the hill I flippantly state that every time I think I’m done I always find another hole, just as I said it I tripped over another sett entrance, I went on to find another three or four and had to re-mark over half the site again.  Nothing says ‘professional’ like accidentally falling over a badger sett entrance you had missed earlier on camera!

What were the biggest filming challenges?  

Trying to drive to a site with a camera two feet from your face and being asked to act naturally!  No way was I going to sing Kenny Rogers songs or 80s power Ballad’s with the camera on! 

The series is running for the next few weeks and is available catch up. Why should we tune in?

You will be treated to some pretty amazing scenery whilst probably being surprised about the breadth of activities we undertake to manage the NFE as multi-purpose forestry.