Forest plantings mark 10 year anniversary for UHI West Highland

Planting a legacy of trees as part of a “Future Forest” project is one of the ways in which UHI West Highland decided to mark its 10 year anniversary.

Working with the Nevis Landscape Partnership (NLP) and estate owners such as Jahama Highland Estates and other local partners, the college has planted around 500 indigenous trees on sites that have been identified close to each of its 10 centres around the West Highlands.  The project took a little longer than planned due to the restrictions surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, but last week marked the final plantings of trees in near the Lower Falls Car Park in Glen Nevis, where interpretive signage will be installed to give more detail about the UHI West Highland Anniversary project. Lydia Rohmer from UHI West Highland and Tom Uppington, Managing Director of Alvance British Aluminium planted some broadleaf trees (hazel / oak) helped by students from the award-winning Countryside Skills with Ranger Training course at the college, also hosted on the Alvance British Aluminium landholdings.

Lydia Rohmer, UHI West Highland explained:

“In my role as Principal of UHI West Highland during its 10th Anniversary year, I was delighted to assist in a number of tree plantings at our ten college centre sites across Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross signifying the roots which our students set down when they join us and the nurturing our staff provide to enable them to flourish in their future careers and to help them make a positive impact on our society through the communities they live and work in.

“We wanted to mark this significant milestone in the college’s history in a way that pays tribute to the hard work that led to the creation of this organisation in the past and to its successful growth supporting students right up to the present day.  But perhaps even more importantly, we also wanted to recognise the fact that we are still evolving, adapting and continue to make a much needed and relevant contribution to our communities and our region.  Over the last 10 years, we have introduced over 500 courses and training programmes right up to full time degree and post graduate qualifications, providing a massive range of opportunities to individuals and organisations that live and work here.

“Whilst we want to celebrate and acknowledge this legacy, we are also looking to the future as we plan for merger with our colleagues in UHI North Highland and UHI Outer Hebrides to form an even more impactful and financially sustainable organisation to serve our students and our rural and islands communities of the North and West Highlands and the Outer Hebrides to grasp the incredible social, cultural and economic opportunities that exist in our region.

“We hope that staff, students and friends of the college will have opportunities to add to these plantings in the future so that our legacy will continue to grow and be clearly seen in this very tangible way.”

Tom Uppington, Lydia Rohmer and Rory Stewart tree planting

Tom Uppington, Managing Director of Alvance British Aluminium commented:  

‘We are delighted to support the staff, students and alumni of UHI West Highland – an academic partner of UHI - with the celebration of their 10th Anniversary.  By providing some of the ground upon which they have planted over 400 native trees, Alvance British Aluminium have helped ensure there is a lasting legacy, recognising the important contribution the staff, current students and the alumni have made to the development of the region.   In addition, as a local company we are particularly pleased to work in close partnership and co-operation with both the college and the Nevis Landscape Partnership (NLP) in the redevelopment of the lower fall’s car park at Polldubh, as well as supporting the NQ Level 5 Countryside Skills with Ranger Training programme, delivered here in Lochaber.  The provision of additional car parking spaces, a public bus turning area and importantly the addition of public toilets has really improved the visitor experience and has helped in the mitigation of waste and litter being discarded in Glen Nevis.   Alvance British Aluminium have also recently involved our staff and their families with the planting over 300 native trees in the area adjacent to the Lower Falls Car park and we look forward to taking forward further native tree planting projects across the wider landholding.’

Partnership Working

Nevis Landscape Partnership have long been a valued partner organisation to the college.  We have worked with them over a number of years to deliver a variety of rural and outdoor courses and we are delighted that they are able to act as key advisers and facilitators in this initiative which contributes to their own Future Forest project.   We are also particularly delighted that a number of students, both current and alumni, are actively involved as volunteers.

Jahama Highland Estates (part of Alvance British Aluminium)  kindly agreed for the major planting of around 400 trees to take place in Glen Nevis, close to the home of our biggest campus in Fort William and the base for both the School of Adventure Studies and the Countryside Skills with Ranger Training course.  Glen Nevis is well known to many of our students and we are delighted that it will now have this additional significance to all associated with the college.   Alvance British Aluminium also support the Countryside Skills with Ranger Training course by facilitating access to much of their landholdings in both Glen Nevis and on Ben Nevis.

The Countryside Skills with Ranger Training course gained a ”Highly Commended” award in the “Employer Connections” category at this year’s College Development Network Awards 2022, which “recognise the talent, innovation and achievement demonstrated by colleges, their staff and their learners.”

A shovel digging to plant tree

The project, entitled: “Future Rangers” recognises the creative and sustained approach that the college has taken to work closely with employers. Its particularly gratifying that students from the course were able to help with the final formal planting as they its organisations such as Nevis Landscape Partnership, Woodland Trust Scotland, John Muir Trust, National Trust for Scotland and Jahama Highland Estates who have driven the evolution of the course and provide successful outcomes for our students through the essential linkage between the industry and course delivery, student engagement and work placements.

“Over the three years of the course running, we have benefitted by employing skilled and knowledgeable students as Seasonal Rangers. Not only have they brought their newly found skills to the job, but they have added their own creativity, enriching and broadening the scope of what our Ranger teams do.” - Rory Stewart, Participation Officer at the Nevis Landscape Partnership 

Image: Tom Uppington – Lydia Rohmer – Rory Stewart planting trees in Glen Nevis to mark the 10 year anniversary of UHI West Highland

More Images available – Iain Ferguson – The Write Image