Deeside estates recognised for Aboyne Academy partnership

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A trio of Deeside estates have been recognised for their involvement in an innovative partnership that engages school pupils with rural business.

Ballogie, Glen Tanar and Dinnet Estates have received Scottish Land and Estates’ North East region’s ‘Helping It Happen’ award after creating an forestry awareness day in conjunction with Aboyne Academy.

The partnership, which began in 2014, sees S3 pupils make a series of visits to these three estates to view the forestry work that land owners and estate staff undertake.

Using the countryside as a classroom, the pupils learn about forestry management and witness the seed-to-sawmill process.

During each estate visit they work on various activities in small groups including, planting, harvesting, sawmilling, conservation and biodiversity.

The drive for this collaborative venture has arisen in part from the encouragement and opportunities for greater engagement between schools and the local business community, and also from the recognition by land managers of the value of explaining the role of forestry in integrated land management and the employment opportunities which arise from it.

Malcolm MacIntyre, depute head teacher at Aboyne Academy, said: “This project is exactly what learning and teaching should be about, working with local partners to engage young people in learning about key aspects of their local environment, in its broadest sense, in a fun, practical manner.”

The Helping It Happen awards are part of an initiative run by Scottish Land & Estates to highlight how landowners and rural businesses across Scotland play a key role in enabling and supporting success in rural areas.

Nominations opened this March for the national Helping It Happen awards, and members of the public will be invited to propose their local estate where it has done something to help their community.

The awards have been supported by Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing.

Mr Ewing said: “Helping rural communities and businesses succeed is a priority for this government and that is why it is great to see a new platform to recognise people who are working hard to help their local economy grow.

“I am therefore pleased to be supporting the Helping it Happen awards, which recognise individuals and rural businesses that play a key role in enabling and supporting success in rural areas.”

David Fyffe, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates’ North East region, said the estates’ willingness to help in the education of young people was a boost to the area at a time of economic uncertainty.

Mr Fyffe said: “Helping It Happen is an initiative to showcase the outstanding work that estates across Scotland do to help their local communities to flourish. There can be little doubt that Ballogie, Glen Tanar and Dinnet Estates are worthy recipients for this award.

“Pupils have been given a well-planned, enjoyable and very interesting chance to learn about how the forestry sector works, and at a time when there are fewer job opportunities in the region as a result of the downturn in the oil and gas industry, the three estates are demonstrating to young people the prospects that are available in forestry.

“This project will continue in 2017 and it demonstrates just how much can be achieved when public and private sectors work together with a clear objective. A collaborative approach can deliver so much more with shared resources, time and effort.”

An awards ceremony will be held in late-May and more details on the campaign, and the awards, can be found at www.helpingithappen.co.uk.