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Mairi Gougeon

International Women’s Day - women in forestry

Sunday, 08 March 2020

Guest blog by Mairi Gougeon, Scottish Government Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment I’ve always been an outdoors person – I love running and prefer to do so outside, even in the rain and wind! So I can completely understand the attraction of working in the great outdoors and with nature, even if it means putting up with the weather. Campaigns like the one on #everydayse...

Image of young foresters with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 – talent without limits!

Tuesday, 03 March 2020

  One of the ways we make sure Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) stays at the top of its game is to bring in ‘fresh blood’. After all, our staff are our most valuable asset. We attract new people through a number of entrant programmes, one of which importantly includes apprenticeships. Bringing in new, enthusiastic and young talent creates innovative teams within FLS and a vibrant pla...

Two women looking up at a waterfall in 2020, the Scottish Year of Coasts and Water

Take the plunge: Wonderful waterfall walks

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Rushing water. A glint of silver as salmon leap and swim upstream. Sunlight filtering through tall trees catches droplets of moisture, casting rainbows everywhere you look. There’s no denying it - waterfalls make for spectacular destinations, some of the most incredible wild places looked after by Forestry and Land Scotland. With good weather on the way soon, get ready to hit the road and che...

Photo of group of World War II soldiers posing for camera

Codename 'Scallywag': Secrets of a WW2 bunker unearthed

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The entrance to a secret underground bunker was recently discovered during tree felling operations in the Scottish Borders. Built during WWII, the bunker would have served as the base of operation for an Auxiliary Unit. The Home Guard were tasked with defending the UK in the event of an invasion, and are better known than the Auxiliaries thanks to the popular comedy ‘Dad's Army’.   Th...

Aerial view of Tweed Valley

Biosecurity and you

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

What is Biosecurity? You may have come across the term 'Biosecurity' - this covers everything a forest worker, machine operator or visitor to our forests and land can do to stop the introduction and spread of harmful organisms, like the deadly tree disease p.ramorum (larch disease); non-native tree pests like oak processionary moth, or disease-causing organisms such as the fungus that causes as...

Image of young family walking in Tentsmuir Forest

A guide to Scotland's Forest Parks

Friday, 14 February 2020

Forest Parks are the jewel in the crown of Scotland's forests. Lush, verdant woodlands containing stunning areas of natural beauty rich in wildlife and plant species, our six Forest Parks play a vital role in the nation's economy, attracting visitors from all over the world. They are also at the heart of our communities, offering space for natural play, exercise, or leisure pursuits, from daily ...

Red squirrel climbing a tree trunk

A tail of two squirrels...

Monday, 20 January 2020

For most people, spotting a red squirrel is a very rare treat. It hasn’t always been this way. These little red acrobats used to roam across all of Britain and were a much more common sight. Now, when we see a squirrel in central or southern Scotland it’s usually a grey, the red’s larger American cousin. The arrival of an invading new species in the form of the greys is a challenge in its...

People camping with tent in winter

Beneath the stars: Winter camping

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

As winter nights begin to shorten, the season for camping is once again upon us. While cold temperatures certainly complicate a winter camping expedition, by no means do they rule it out! Beginners or those who have never camped outdoors may find the conditions challenging, but there's a lot to see and experience.  From the lack of midges, to frost-bound forests and snow-capped hills, to s...

One frog on another's back

Frogtopia: Building the perfect pond

Monday, 13 January 2020

In December, the Forestry and Land Scotland team at Glentress in Tweed Valley Forest Park were ably assisted by volunteers from the Borders Forest Trust and the Scottish Borders Council as they tackled the daunting task of clearing the drained wildlife and biodiversity pond outside the Gateway building. The pond, originally created as a home for a diverse range of wildlife from dragonflies...

Man and two women walking along a cliffside path

Ten winter walks for the whole family

Monday, 06 January 2020

Whether it's your New Year's resolution to get active or you just need to burn off all that Christmas turkey and roast potatoes, January is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, step outside, and reconnect with nature. Winter is one of Scotland's most spectacular seasons, even if the weather is sometimes less than ideal. Grab the right all-weather gear and stay warm, and a winter walk can b...

Close up of large brown bird of prey with curved beak and blue sky beyond

Nature in its purest form: Photographing a White-tailed Eagle

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Photo: David Robb The stunning photos above were taken by David, one of our Wildlife Rangers, and a seasoned bird-watcher. He saw the young eagle in Brenchoillie Forest in Argyll. These rare and magnificent birds sadly went extinct in Britain in the 1900s. More recently they were successfully re-introduced, starting with a small population on Scotland's Isle of Rum. Amazingly, David got c...

Illustration of bats

Bats in Scotland’s forests

Monday, 02 December 2019

How much do you know about bats? They are a protected species in Scotland, but thanks to the efforts of dedicated bat-fans, a few species are increasing in number. The growing populations are a huge success story for this fascinating flying mammal. Let’s celebrate with some bat-facts! Main image viua PXfuel Bats are brilliant! A female Natterer's bat is handled by an FLS wildlife expert...

Children hugging a tree in the forest

National Tree Week: The Tree Charter

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Tree Council’s nation-wide celebration National Tree Week is here! Back in 2017, the Council and dozens of partner organisations and charities got together to create The Tree Charter, or to give it its full title, The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. A mini-manifesto of sorts, the Charter is intended to help communities, individuals and trees to stand together. It looks at t...

Woman looking at tree

National Tree Week: Prayer of the Woods

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Walking through the forests and national parks of North America, at some point you are bound to come across a version of the ‘Prayer of the Woods’. Usually carved on a plaque at the entrance to a forest trail, the ‘prayer’ takes the form of a short poem presented as an anonymous work. While its most common title is ‘Prayer of the Woods’ it does not have a religious origin. It is tra...