Branching out with eco-friendly skills

Reece Paterson. Photo by Lesley Martin.
Reece Paterson. Photo by Lesley Martin.

Fife-based forestry business and social enterprise, Living Solutions (LS) is taking its forestry expertise to the Royal Burgess Golfing Society in Edinburgh.

The arborist team (arbs), led by Reece Paterson, has taken tree surgery skills to a new level embracing the challenge of new terrains like golf courses and greens, woodlands, residential areas and path-sides using totally eco-friendly equipment.

The LS arbs team are given a highly-specialised arborist training to climb and work at height as part of their apprenticeship.

Reece (21) from Cowdenbeath, a former soldier who has been on tour in Afghanistan, joined Living Solutions on an apprentice-ship scheme in 2016.

He started retraining to become a forester through the LS Rural Skills apprenticeship scheme and very quickly demonstrated talent as an arborist bringing an enthusiastic and dynamic attitude to the role. He also starred at the Royal Highland Show last year where he scaled a 90-foot pole at speed showing real aptitude for high level work.

Reece said: “Moving from the military straight into civilian life was hard at the time – especially finding the right job opportunity and training. Joining Living Solution has been a real boost especially specialist training in arbs work. I would highly recommend forestry as a future career for any young 16 and 17-year-olds – it has so many interesting aspects to it and being part of the arborist team has given me a lot of confidence. A highlight for me is being able to train other young people and see them make the first steps along their forestry and “arbs” career.”

Each year 16 academy students are taken on and trained in power pole pruning, wood chipping, chain saw maintenance and cross cutter skills that employers look out for on a CV. A further 8 waged training opportunities are then available for academy students to progress in to working speed covering chain saw; standard felling and managing wind-blow trees with winch work. And young trainees may be kept on for a further period where they are trained to work ready standard as they complete an apprenticeship.

Living Solutions leader and trainer Paul Cruise, heading up the Rural Skills Academy training course said: “I think word is getting out that forestry is a career for life; a job that can take you around the world. We are seeing lively and enthusiastic apprentices coming through the door that show real passion for forestry and Reece is one of them – he has shown great leadership skills and has been an outstanding participant from the start.”