A Scottish School of Forestry student has been awarded the Savills Forestry and Sustainability Award after producing an outstanding land management plan as part of his degree.
Sandy Davidson, 24, who is in the fourth year of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ BSc (Hons) in Forest Management, works as an assistant woodland officer with Scottish Forestry.
He proposed a strategy for the future management of a fictitious Inverness estate, which identified current land uses, their strengths and limitations. He went on to propose an integrated land management approach to increase the sustainability of the estate, while maintaining the important areas of productive agricultural land, forestry, historical conservation and recreational areas.
The plan targeted management in areas likely to deliver highest impact and identified opportunities to improve engagement with local communities.
Sandy, who grew up in North Uist in the Western Isles, said: “I was very surprised to win this award, but also very pleased as I feel really passionate about sustainability. Land management has a huge part to play in addressing some of the major challenges we face in Scotland and around the world, particularly regarding the major issues of climate change and biodiversity loss. While our exercise was entirely theoretical, I think it was a good way to get students to think of ways we can adapt our current land use models in order to improve overall sustainability. Being recognised for my work by a company like Savills is really special.”
Savills’ forestry experts provide consultancy advice on commercial forestry and woodland management. The company awarded its inaugural prize last year to reward high-achieving students after forming a close industry partnership with the Scottish School of Forestry.
Ewan Reid, associate director in Savills Forestry team, said: “This type of critical analysis is central to modern forestry. Our clients, from community groups to private landowners, need to be able to optimise the benefits derived from their properties.
“As our forestry business continues to grow within a highly dynamic sector, Savills is encouraged to see talented graduates like Sandy tackling the question of holistic land-use.”
Amanda Bryan, head of the Scottish School of Forestry and programme leader for the BSc (Hons) in Forest Management, said: “Sandy is incredibly passionate about sustainable land management, so it’s wonderful to see him rewarded for his work in this way. The Scottish School of Forestry is proud to work with industry to provide opportunities for students, from awards like this, to site visits and guest lectures. Savills consistently support our work at the Scottish School of Forestry to educate, mentor and inspire the next generation of foresters and land managers.”
The Scottish School of Forestry at Inverness College UHI is the principal institution for forestry and arboriculture training and education in Scotland, offering a range of qualifications from access level programmes through to honours degree level. It’s also the only UK provider of undergraduate higher education in forest management.
Caption: Amanda Bryan, Head of the Scottish School of Forestry, Sandy Davidson, and Ewan Reid, Associate Director in the Savills Forestry team.