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University of Aberdeen



Why did I come to study forestry at Aberdeen?


Here are views of two of our graduates who chose very different career paths.


Marcus Robbins

My sister suggested I would like forestry - and she was right! I really enjoyed my time at Aberdeen. After graduating in 1970, a year with VSO in Nigeria stimulated my interest in tropical forestry, learning how hippos bother farmers and scorpions sting (among other things). After a short time at the Oxford Forestry Institute, I started work with ODA (now DFID) in Nicaragua testing species and provenances, and getting a taste for earthquakes, hurricanes, and revolutions. In Honduras, I specialised in seeds helping to distribute tropical pines around the world. After 10 years I left with a wife and three children and went on to Nepal for four years. Still working with seeds, I helped train hundreds of seed collectors even though I couldn't climb a tree myself! From that technical start, I plunged into the timber lined corridors of the European Commission, advising on forest development policy for three years. Then it was five years based in Barbados, advising on identification and implementation of forestry projects in the Caribbean. I learnt how a watershed project could be severely reshaped by volcanic eruptions (on Montserrat), and how forests can indeed grow on pure beach sand (in Guyana). Then I was based in Britain at the Natural Resources Institute developing training material (based on my successes and failures!) Now I have just entered the world of the independent consultant, roaming to Rome, travelling many hours on the internet and finding out what's new in forestry. And it seems to be a subject even more varied and stimulating than when I first started out. Highly to be recommended!


Emma Stewart

I started at Aberdeen University in 1993 and graduated in 1997. After graduating I decided to gain some practical experience by doing voluntary work as a Voluntary Officer for Scottish Conservation Projects Trust (now BTCV Scotland). Then I volunteered for the RSPB at Forest Lodge in Abernethy, particularly as I had completed my honours thesis on the ‘Importance of Dead Wood in Forests’. I continue my work with SCP in the Highlands and Islands area and spent a wonderful few months planting trees among other activities. In August 1998 I took up a new post of Voluntary Assistant Warden on an Island Local Nature Reserve in the Bristol Channel for 6 months, then as warden on a National Nature Reserve in Norfolk where I gained lots of practical experience. My first paid job came in January 2000 as Community and Environment Ranger with Forest Enterprise in Scottish Lowlands Forest District. I am the first point of contact for the local people in my area. I deal with community liaison, conservation, recreation, heritage and partnership working. We liaise closely with the forest operations side of our team so that the commercial side does not adversely impact on the forest environment. I also lead the conservation work for the District and found that my previous experience provided me with a good background. Forest management is not just about forests, foresters manage grasslands, wetlands, bogs and moor land and each of these habitats needs different expertise. One of my other main areas of work is planning the restoration of native woodland ancient woodland sites. My job also connects Forest Enterprise back to the local communities to some extent through regular visits to my area.

School of Biological Sciences· University of Aberdeen ·Cruickshank Building  St Machar Drive· Aberdeen AB24 3UU · Scotland
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