20 May 2022

Blog: Euan on the role of a Woodland Officer

As part of the global fight to tackle climate change and nature loss, Scotland is increasing its woodland cover from the current 19% to 21% by 2032.

Over the coming years, to help achieve this, annual targets to create new woodlands are increasing up to 18,000ha – that’s a whopping 36 million new trees in the ground every year!

Scottish Forestry is at the heart of this drive and is currently recruiting a number of staff to support this increase in tree planting across the country.

A key role is in stimulating more woodland planting is the Woodland Officer.

We spoke to Euan Johnstone, Woodland Officer in Perth and Argyll Conservancy, to find out what he enjoys about his role and working with Scottish Forestry.

Euan Johnstone 15

As a Woodland Officer, what do you do?
My job title might give you the impression that I break up fights between squirrels, but it isn’t of course. I do a variety of things in helping to manage private woodlands but I also work in woodland creation. I look over proposed woodland designs and I get out on site to see what they’re proposing is actually suitable for that site. As part of this I also work with other stakeholders such as RSPB, NatureScot, local councils, SEPA. It all depends on what’s on the ground really.

What’s your favourite part of your job?
The thing I like the most is getting more trees into the ground. It’s particularly nice when you get presented with a woodland design that you approve and you can see it through to fruition and see that area planted. Then you can come back years from now and think “I was involved in getting that established.”

What did you do before joining Scottish Forestry?
My first degree was in English Literature so it’s been a change coming over to studying forestry. I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past but this is my first career

I’ve only been doing forestry for 6/7 years now and when I was studying at college I did everything I could to get hands-on experience such as doing a bit of chainsaw work and tree planting. However, my main work before joing Scottish Forestry was in forestry mapping.

I worked for a team of freelancers who basically worked all over the country, predominantly in the Highlands. We would go into the field and collect data on woodlands which could help on decisions to take out timber from those areas. But we were also looking at things like the condition of the trees, looking for areas of windblow and mapping that out.

Is this your first role at Scottish Forestry?
Yes, I was an Assistant Woodland Officer when I worked in south Scotland but I got promoted and moved to Perth.

Euan Johnstone 17

What inspired you to work with us?
I suppose I liked the idea of being part of a larger strategy; a larger vision for Scotland. I like the idea of planting more woodland across Scotland both for environmental and economic reasons. It just makes sense to me to plant woodland because it’s a renewable resource and good for the environment.

What are the best things about working for Scottish Forestry?
Everyone I’ve worked with has been really friendly and everyone gets on well. It’s nice to also have that support.

What’s your favourite Scottish forest, woodland or location?
Glen Doll in the Cairngorms National Park is pretty nice. Just walking up that Glen there is a lot of commercial forests but there’s a lot of native woodland as well. I’m a big fan of Scots Pines and it’s just a really nice walk up there.

What’s your favourite thing to do outdoors?
Hiking and taking pictures of trees, landscape, wildlife - whatever catches my eye!

Find out about jobs
For more information on jobs within Scottish Forestry log on here.