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Forestry Success at SRUC Barony

Two candidates on the Forest Machine Operator Skills Development course have successfully completed the programme. This is the first eight week course of a series of three courses delivered by the established partnership of UKFPA, Barony Campus, John Deere Forestry and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Cameron McLean from Stirling and Martin Jones from North Wales embarked on the programme in August. Having completed two weeks intensive instruction at Barony Campus, which included the use of machine simulators, the trainees moved to a large harvesting site near Eskdalemuir for the remaining 6 weeks of the course.

Cameron McLean was a student on the Certificate in Forestry course at Barony Campus, and since the completion of the full time course had been working felling Cameron McLean in front of harvestertrees with Weir Forestry. Cameron had spent a little time on a forwarder but had never driven a harvester. He said: “From when I left school I have always been interested in forestry. From a young age I helped out at my grandparent’s garden, part of which used to be a Christmas tree plantation, and I used an axe and a handsaw to cut down the trees. When the Forest Machine Operator course came up I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I have learned a lot on the course, both around maintaining the machines and of course driving them. I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and hope to continue working in the forestry industry.”

Martin Jones previously worked on electricity poles as a Pole Linesman, but a fall and fractured pelvis made him rethink his career. With both his father and grandfather working in the forestry industry it was no surprise that Martin continued in their footsteps. Martin said: “My working life has taken me all over the world working mainly within the overhead cable industry, but previously having done some work in the forestry industry that is what I want to do. I did the one week forwarder course at the Barony Campus, and before working in the cable industry worked with the Forestry Commission and Elliot Henderson. This course has given me the chance to operate a harvester, and it has been quite an experience working in this wet terrain. The machines have been excellent.”

Paul Fotheringham, Senior Forestry Instructor said: “We are delighted to be running these courses again. It is good to be able to give new operators the time in the machines that they need. We are very grateful for the support of UKFPA, John Deere Forestry and Forestry Commission Scotland.”

The second of the three programmes begins on Monday 23rd October. Each intensive and practical course addresses all aspects of mechanised harvesting and forwarding operations. Candidates are assessed under the Forest Machine Operator Certification scheme. Due to a cancellation there is now one space available on the October course, running from 23rd October to 6th December. Applications are also still open for the January 2018 course date.

Rachel Fraser, Training Manager said: “Training opportunities for Forestry Machinery on this scale are rare, and without access to courses such as these it can be difficult for individuals interested in this career to gain the skills that contractors are looking for in their operators.

“We are pleased to be able to support this delivery and look forward to seeing our next group of trainees later in the month.”

Anyone wishing to apply for the cancelled place or for the January date should get in touch with Rachel Fraser at or on 01387 242906.


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