A former student of the Scottish School of Forestry has been appointed as its new head.

Neil Cleland replaces Amanda Bryan at the helm of the Scottish School of Forestry, part of Inverness College UHI.

The Scottish School of Forestry is the country’s only forestry and arboriculture training provider, delivering both further and higher education within its own practical training environment.

Neil has over 40 years’ experience in the forestry industry, working in a variety of roles from estate worker through to contractor. He was also involved in the establishment of Cantraybridge College, Scotland’s specialist further education college for young adults with learning disabilities. 

He has worked at the Scottish School of Forestry since 1990, joining the team as a full-time lecturer in 2010, lecturing across a range of further education and higher education programmes.

Neil, who is a qualified British Sign Language interpreter, commenced his new role at the beginning of October. He said: “Having been involved with the Scottish School of Forestry for many years, first as a student, then a technician and a lecturer, I am very proud to have been given this opportunity to shape its future.

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“The current pandemic creates many challenges, and my priority remains ensuring our students continue to have the very best student experience, access to quality teaching through a combination of face to face teaching and innovative remote teaching methods, and that we continue to maintain our excellent reputation with the forestry sector, ensuring that our students leave with the skills needed for the workplace.

“Over and above this, I’m keen to expand on our research capacity, ensuring that our students, and the sector, are prepared for the advances in technology and science, and the opportunities this presents.”

Neil’s appointment follows Amanda Bryan’s move to the Scottish Forestry Trust as executive director. Amanda continues to teach part-time at the Scottish School of Forestry.

Professor Chris O’Neil, principal of Inverness College UHI, added: “I am delighted to appoint Neil Cleland as Depute Head of the Scottish School of Forestry. His dedication, passion and enthusiasm to support our learners and attract new talent into the forestry sector is commendable.

“As a former student, Neil understands the important role the Scottish School of Forestry has played in shaping the next generation of foresters and the fond regard it is held by those who have studied here.

“He is well placed to ensure it continues to play a key role in supporting the learning and training needs of industry, and the contribution that the sector needs to make to the future growth of our economy and our response to the climate emergency.”

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