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Forestry is traditionally thought of as a male dominated field. However, women have played an important role in the forest industry for many years and now, for the first time, four of the senior leaders in Scottish public sector forestry are women.

The history of women in forestry stems back to 1942 when the Women's Timber Corps was formed as part of the Women's Land Army. The 'Lumberjills' replaced the men who had answered the call to war, carrying out the arduous tasks of felling, snedding, loading lorries and trains and sawmilling timber all over Scotland. The Women's Timber Corps was disbanded in 1946.

lumberjills at a sawmill

Now four of the senior roles in Scottish public sector forestry are held by women. This is a great example of how women are getting ahead in the top levels of management in Scotland.

Pictured below from left to right: Amanda Bryan, Forestry Commissioner; Dr Aileen McLeod, Environment Minister; Jo O’Hara, Head of Forestry Commission Scotland; and Bridget Campbell, Director of Scottish Government’s Environment and Forestry Directorate.

A group of women in high-vis vests standing in front of forestry equipment.

However, there's still a long way to go to balance the gender split - for example, only 30 percent of Forestry Commission Scotland staff is female - so we are keen to encourage more women into forestry.

On Friday we allocated a further £300,000 towards a skills programme that includes hands-on forestry training for young women to help ensure that the sector is able to draw from the widest pool of talent. This programme has already trained up 82 women and the extra funding will support another 20 female trainees.

During a visit to the forestry arena at the Royal Highland Show on Friday, Environment Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, highlighted the role of women in forestry:

"Women are increasingly contributing across industries and I want to ensure that modern forestry reflects modern Scotland. We need to draw upon the skills and talents of all of our people, regardless of gender.

"It is clear that women can and should be participating in this dynamic and growing sector and it's great to see more women now reaching the top of the profession.

"However, women should be more involved at every level of the sector and the additional £300,000 funding is a welcome boost in encouraging more young women at grass roots level to view forestry as a rewarding career."