The Royal Scottish Forestry Society

...for those who love the forests, woodlands and trees of Scotland

What's in a Society?

A former Director's perspective

The Royal Scottish Forestry Society has been quietly getting on with the business of best practice since 1857. Quite a claim and no idle boast! The secret to this success lies in the membership which comprises a very broad representation from Scottish society. Indeed the list of past Presidents ranges from Dukes to Foresters; the all-inclusive point is that they were, like the present members, tree enthusiasts.

This enthusiasm is infectious and leads to many a debate on arboricultural methodology. If I have learnt one thing during my time with the Society, it is that there is no one answer. The solution to each circumstance relies on balancing the factors appertaining to that site. Geography, finance and purpose will jostle for ascendancy and swop places in priority for each site. 

The marvellous point about a charity like ours is that there will always be somebody who has relevant experience. Indeed there are usually several people who have relevant and conflicting views! It is in this forum that best practice is achieved.  This distillation of wide and learned experience is then shared through our journal Scottish Forestry and on the numerous field trips we make throughout Scotland. Each of our 5 Regions compete to find the most interesting and controversial sites. The owners always get plenty of options for alternative outcomes. It has become quite common for the Society to be invited to a location to give their views on future management.  For us the pay back is that we get to see parts of Scotland that are not generally accessible.

The depth of knowledge across the Society membership is remarkable. We have members on government committees and employed within every sphere of land management and the organisations involved. Several of these are corporate members and along with the rank and file membership it is this sharing of knowledge which is the Society’s greatest asset. A brief search of the journal archives, on the Society website, bears ample witness to this aspect of best practice.

There is no more relevant time for this Society with the current debates on Land strategy. The myriad of factors involved (climate change, carbon efficiency, food and timber supplies, leisure facilities, bio diversity and the rural economy – to name a few) demand that we achieve best practice for the future of both our country and following generations. We must listen to the experience garnered, evaluate and act, not in haste, but with best practice.

A N Harding, Mar 15