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Rural Affairs Minister, Mairi Gougeon has called on more forestry businesses to follow Forestry and Land Scotland’s lead and do more to encourage more young women in to STEM related roles in the sector.

Ms Gougeon urged the industry to tap in to a latent pool of talent after hearing of the experience of four women whose summer placements with FLS allowed them to gain experience and develop their skills to supplement and complement their academic studies.

The students had joined FLS thanks to a collaboration with Equate Scotland, which aims to promote and encourage the advancement of women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment, that is funded by Scottish Government.

Ms Gougeon, said;

“Scotland has a remarkable pool of talent in its young people. Tapping in to this is a vital part of helping Scotland stay at the forefront of innovation especially as people with highly valued science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills are increasingly in demand amongst a wide range of employers. We want more young women in particular to study STEM and take up careers in STEM related industries and sectors.

“That is why I am delighted that Forestry and Land Scotland is playing its part in helping deliver on our shared ambitions. Equate Scotland is doing a fantastic job of encouraging more women to look at and pursue career options like this – and of raising the profile of women in these roles with potential employers.

“Forestry and Land Scotland offers a wide range of opportunities for young people and I hope that more businesses in forestry will follow their lead and encourage and enable more young women with talent, skills and qualifications into the sector.”

Millie Coleman, Jenny Holdsworth and Summer Hannah worked within the Geo-information Services team using of state-of-the-art technology to support forestry and land management operations across the country.

Hannah Humphreys, worked with FLS’s lead ecologist to support high profile species conservation work.

The student placements were based in Edinburgh and Inverness and run from June to August 2019. Forestry and Land Scotland is working with Equate Scotland, which is the national expert in gender equality through the STEM sectors.

Forestry and Land Scotland employs around 950 staff, with around a third being female.



Hannah Humphreys is studying Environmental Biology at Edinburgh Napier University. During her placement with the Smithton (nr Inverness) team, Hannah worked on a range of applied ecology projects, including surveying deadwood insects, sorting and writing up data, and identifying and collecting animal droppings – which is fundamental ability that every aspiring ecologist has to learn!

Hannah said; “The Equate Scotland placement meant I could enhance my future career prospects whilst being employed during the university’s summer break – it’s the perfect arrangement!’’

Millie Coleman is studying Geography at the University of Aberdeen. Millie has worked on many different projects including analysing natural tree regeneration data, creating maps for Larch felling strategy and flooding as well as making mobile surveys.

Millie said; “When I first started learning about GIS (Geographical Information Systems), I was intrigued by how the software could be so applicable across so many disciplines and fields. In addition, I liked how it was something still very new and that new things were being developed for it all the time. With this becoming a keen interest for me I was excited to find a placement from Equate Scotland at Forestry and Land Scotland that was almost entirely focused on using GIS.”

Jenny Holdsworth is studying Geography at the University of St Andrews and during her time with FLS has created online dashboards for tree health and fire data, web maps and storymaps for coastal erosion and natural regeneration projects, and has run topology analyses.

Jenny said; “I was attracted to apply for the Equate Scotland placement as it was the ideal arrangement for me. It helped me to further develop my GIS skills whilst gaining valuable work experience and also hopefully help me to decide on my future career path.”

Summer Hannah has recently graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in Geography and Geoscience. Based in the Inverness head office for FLS, Summer has worked on analysing Capercaillie spatial data, helped make a mobile survey for crossing points in the North region and made some heat maps for peat depth. Summer is currently working as a temporary Admin Officer with FLS’s Mechanical and Engineering Services team.

Summer said; “I learned a lot more about GIS than I did from my University courses and I am really enjoying using GIS in the ‘real world’. From my placement with FLS, and by meeting, working with and going on site visits with a large variety of people, I fancy a career in the forestry sector.”


Notes to editors

  1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) was established as an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government on 1 April 2019, following completion of the devolution of forestry as a result of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018. It replaces Forest Enterprise Scotland.
  2. The purpose of FLS is to manage forests and land owned by Scottish Minsters in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; and delivers benefits for people and nature. FLS may manage other forested and non-forested land by arrangement, as set out in the Act.
  3. The primary focus of FLS, in delivering its purpose, is to support Scottish Ministers in their role as leaders of Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Development through their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
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  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 0131 370 5059 or