We have provided funding towards a woodland volunteering and youth training project run by The Borders Forest Trust. This provided training and practical experience in woodland management for unemployed young people, and support volunteering opportunities in community woodlands in the Scottish Borders. Outcomes for 2010 are described at the bottom of this page.
The Borders Forest Trust is an environmental charity established in 1996 to develop and deliver ambitious habitat restoration and community woodland projects. The Trust works to create a network of wild places with native woodlands and other habitats cared for by local communities. The Trust supports community woodlands, habitat restoration, education and arts projects and is involved in the sustainable use of hardwood timber.
In the Scottish Borders there is a recognised lack of development and employment opportunities for young unemployed people. Compounding this lack of opportunity, there is little in the way of training provision to enable out of work young people to develop new skills, build confidence, gain formal qualifications and develop practical experience in the countryside and rural skills sector that would improve their employment potential.
Photos courtesy of Borders Forest Trust
The woodland volunteering and youth training project was established by The Borders Forest Trust in 2009 to address these needs. Its two principal aims are :
to provide relevant training and practical experience in woodland management for unemployed young people, enhancing their employment potential in the rural skills sector
to develop and support volunteering opportunities for youth in community woodlands in the Scottish Borders helping volunteers to develop skills, confidence and make a contribution to their local environment
The project offers volunteering opportunities one day per week for six months, as well as more formal training in such skills as woodland management, chainsaw use, strimmer use, the application of herbicide etc. Successful trainees will receive a LANTRA Certificate of Competence, which will help them into employment in the sector or further educational opportunities.
Outcomes and lessons
The Borders Forest Trust has now reported on their achievements during 2010 on the woodland volunteering and youth training project :
10 young people received training
59 volunteers participated, with an average of eight taking part each week
43 training qualifications were attained by young people
85 volunteer days supported
Tasks and informal training have included coppicing, path maintenance, tree tube removal, tree planting, tree identification and remedial works on woodland paths. LANTRA certificates have been awarded for training in strimming and brushcutting, chainsaw maintenance and crosscutting, pesticide spraying and all terrain vehicle training. In addition to these the young people have also completed training in woodland management planning and coppicing. They have also worked in various community woodlands around the Borders, putting their new skills into practice and also developing their communication and team-working skills. Four trainees have gained paid employment during 2010, two of them with the Scottish Wildlife Trust, one with a forestry contractor and the other in a local factory.
Photos courtesy of Borders Forest Trust
Running alongside the training programme is a weekly volunteer day, targeted at young people but open to all. During 2010, volunteers have worked on a variety of projects including tree planting, brashing, coppicing and tree tube removal. Volunteers come from many different organisations such as Apex Borders (which supports young offenders), Carnegie College, Borders College, Ways 2 Work, Volunteer Centre Borders. This work is of great value to the volunteers, who are meeting new people, enjoying healthy exercise and gaining new skills and also to the community woodlands who rely on this volunteer effort to keep the woodlands in good condition.
As one young volunteer explained, “when I was told I was to go out one day a week on placement, I was really worried, as I have never done anything like that before...however I found that I really enjoyed my time”. She said, “I have learned loads about the woods and the need for these to be looked after, the best part for me is sunny days and the chat, the worst is the snow...”, adding, “the volunteering experience gives me something to get up for in the morning and there’s always something different happening all the time”.
The Blackford Trust is delighted to have been able to make a contribution towards this excellent progress during 2010, and the Borders Forest Trust and all the young people and leaders who took part are to be commended for these very worthwhile achievements.
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This page was last updated on 14 January 2011.
The Blackford Trust, c/o Gillespie Macandrew LLP (B.12891.1), 5 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 8EJ, Scotland, United Kingdom