Fife-based forestry business and social enterprise, Living Solutions (LS), is taking its forestry expertise to the Royal Burgess Golfing Society in Edinburgh this week, as a team of highly-trained, eco-friendly arborists tackle overhanging trees by the first tee using silent and zero carbon emission equipment.
The arborist team, led by Reece Paterson, are embracing the challenge of new terrains like golf courses and greens, woodlands, residential areas and path-sides using totally eco-friendly equipment. The LS team are given a highly-specialised arborist training to climb and work at height as part of their apprenticeship.
Reece (21) from Cowdenbeath, a former soldier who had been on tour in Afghanistan, joined Living Solutions on an apprentice-ship scheme in 2016.
He started retraining to become a forester through the LS Rural Skills apprenticeship scheme and very quickly demonstrated talent as an arborist bringing an enthusiastic and dynamic attitude to the role. He also starred at the Royal Highland Show last year where he scaled a 90-foot pole at speed, showing real aptitude for high-level work.
Commenting on his new career, Reece Paterson said: “Moving from the military straight into civilian life was hard at the time – especially finding the right job opportunity and training.
“Joining Living Solution has been a real boost especially my specialist training in arboriculture work. I would highly recommend forestry as a future career for any young 16 and 17 year-olds – it has so many interesting aspects to it and being part of the arborist team has given me a lot of confidence.”
Reece added: “A highlight for me is being able to train other young people and see them make the first steps along their forestry and ‘arbs’ career.”
Each year, 16 academy students are taken on and trained in power pole pruning, wood chipping, chainsaw maintenance, and cross cutter skills to recognised NPTC and LANTRA standards that employers look out for on a CV.
A further eight waged training opportunities are then available for academy students to progress in to working speed covering chain saw; standard felling and managing wind-blow trees with winch work. And young trainees may be kept on for a further period where they are trained to work ready standard as they complete an apprenticeship.
Living Solutions leader and trainer, Paul Cruise, heading up the Rural Skills Academy training course, said: “I think word is getting out that forestry is a career for life – a bit like cooking was a few years ago – a job that can take you around the world.
“We are seeing lively and enthusiastic apprentices coming through the door that show real passion for forestry and Reece is one of them – he has shown great leadership skills and has been an outstanding participant from the start.
“The complex nature of ‘arbs’ work and the attention to detail required in the job is imperative, especially where chainsaws, rope and harness are involved, so taking a pride in the job makes it an all-round win for us all.
“Young guys like Reece can struggle to find work when they come out of the military – but they have that get up and go and precision that we need in this competitive business.
“Of course, not all apprentices are suited to becoming arborists – there are various routes they can progress down and do well such as – forestry contracting, landscaping and gardening. However, when we see that talent emerge, we want to make sure we can support them with the specialist arborist training required.”
Paul added: “In recent months, the whole business endeavour to tender for tree surgery contracts has come to fruition with a highly-trained and specialised work-force.
“To really set us apart, we have put in place a truly eco service, with lightweight and silent Pellenc arborist saws with no emissions and a new silent hydrogen vehicle that runs for 200 miles with only water emissions no pollutants.
“This means we can carry out the work with no noise or emissions near offices, on golf courses and residential homes and busy areas and that is a real plus.
“It also shows we have the capacity to take Living Solutions to the next stage in 2017 and are open for contracts.”
Image credit: Lesley Martin