A natural born leader

0711024 SSFF ecology centre 'Douglas Maxwell (Operation Manager) at the Ecology Centre, Kinghorn
0711024 SSFF ecology centre 'Douglas Maxwell (Operation Manager) at the Ecology Centre, Kinghorn

DOUGLAS Maxwell still can’t believe his luck when he goes to work in the mornings.

Because, for the last five weeks the former environmental landscaper has been doing his dream job – working as the new operations manager in charge of the running of The Ecology Centre in Kinghorn.

And, as he looks out over Kinghorn Loch, on whose banks the centre nestles, you can quite understand why – for someone who loves the great outdoors – it would be considered a dream job.

Douglas (33) has a degree in biology and a diploma in ecology and says he is delighted to be able to combine his practical skills from his landscaping experience with the theoretical skills from his studies to try to do the best he can for the environment.

“I was working with a community food growing group in the Raploch in Stirling when this job came up and I thought: ‘This is what I have been working towards my whole life,’” he explained.

Ideal job

“The location, the subject matter, the level of responsibility, the environmental education and the practical management skills – if I was to write my ideal job description, this would be it!”

And he is looking forward to taking the Ecology Centre forward as it moves into the next stage of its life which will include moving into new purpose-built premises on the site of the old tannery just around the loch from its current setting.

“The plans have all got permission and everything is all set to go, now we are just looking at getting the final funding in place so work can start on the building,” he explained.

Hands on

And his first five weeks in the job have not been idle ones, with projects including pruning back shrubbery and bushes at the bird hide to allow visitors to see the birds nesting and irrigating the poly tunnels, to liaising with customers of the centre’s enterprise company which manufactures wooden furniture, planters, playground equipment and much more allowing him to get hands on experience from day one.

“My job is all about the balance of knowing how the biological processes work and applying them practically for the benefit of the land and the people using it,” he said.

“So you are pruning back the trees to create more light which increases the ground cover in the woods around the centre, for everyone’s benefit.”

And he says that, although he has lots of ideas for the centre he will not be barging in.

“The centre has been running successfully for ten years, so it is doing something right. There are a few things I think could enhance the whole visitors education experience on the site and I have discussed these with my colleagues and we will prioritise these.”