8 Oct 2020
Blog: Celebrating Black History Month
October marks Black History Month, which is an annual celebration of the history, achievements and contributions of Black people in the UK.
It would be fair to say that the forest industries, as a whole, are not attracting many ethnically diverse people to work within the sector. Estimates suggest that only around two per cent of the forestry sector are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Scottish Forestry is very keen to attract a more diverse workforce and is committed to policies which foster equality, diversity and inclusion.
By attracting more staff from ethnic groups, we hope to remove barriers and provide more role models so that others can see that forestry is a great career for them too.
Although ethnic minorities make up around six per cent of the Scottish population, research has found that only a fraction of this were connecting with woodlands in some way.
For this reason, Scottish Forestry has undertaken engagement work with ethnic minority groups for many years.
Our work has been mainly focussed in the central belt and aims to encourage people from all backgrounds to enjoy the benefits and opportunities that our woods and forests provide.
The Scottish Forestry engagement programme works with a great many different organisations and finds innovative ways to break down cultural barriers which might prevent groups from enjoying woodlands.
The work has included celebrating traditional faith festivals in the woodlands, sharing cultural folklore stories in workshops and the setting up a network of volunteer community champions in partnership with CEMVO. The ‘champions’ were taught to lead their own community woodland workshops for people from diverse backgrounds and religions and are Scottish Forestry ambassadors at community events.
A Women’s Leadership Programme was also developed specifically for women and ran for three years. Twenty four women signed up and were trained to run their own projects in woodland settings.
The engagement programme has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, although in different guises – mainly using social media and online activities. An example is a new “Woodlands for All” multicultural swatch book created by Anna Canning of Floramedica. Weekly online community consultations took place on the back of the booklet involving around 55 people and is still going – it’s a great way to bring the woodland into your home.
There’s plenty of activities planned too for minority groups in the coming months.
Woodland Health Walks
Scottish Forestry is working with Monica Wilde, herbalist, on a series of woodland health walk and immune boosting workshops to set everyone up for winter. Provisional dates in October are 6th, 15th, 20th and 29th October in Avonbridge, Bathgate. These walks are targeted at protected characteristic groups and people who have had barriers to accessing the woodlands and outdoors.
To encourage all groups into the forest for exercise, easy cycling groups have been set up in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Places are limited and booking is essential. More details on the programme’s facebook page here. To book, complete the form here.
For details of all activities log on to the Woodlands for All facebook page.