The Bute Forest Manager, Emma Cooper, finishes her contract with Bute Forest Ltd at the end of December. Emma started work 2 years ago on the forest project and will continue her involvement in a voluntary capacity as a member of the BCLC board of Directors.

Emma said “Firstly, a huge thank you to all of the directors, volunteers, visitors and hecklers who have made my job so much fun since I first moved to Bute in December 2011. It’s been a wonderful experience and I hope you can agree we’ve moved a long way forward in that time. From Gruffalo adventures, pine cone collecting competitions, pond-dipping, getting head-to-toe covered in mud path-building and approximately 20 ticks and 450 midge bites – it’s been wonderful!

The timber business now employs two people in the forest who manage our woodland in the most ecological and sustainable way possible and for which we were short-listed for a national award this year, the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Environment Award 2013. We have new paths, picnic tables and signage to make visitor experiences better than ever and more people taking advantage of this every year. We are well into the process of submitting our Stage 2 bid for the forest centre and visitor accommodation and hope for a positive outcome on this by the end of next year. We ran a popular events programme this year and have plans to do the same next year. The schools and college regularly access our educational activities and utilise the forest for play and teaching. The kayak wilderness campsite will open for spring next year. We have had over 250 volunteers taking part in conversational work, educational activities, training courses and leading events.

I have asked to become a BCLC Director to ensure that I remain involved and specifically that I can oversee the stage 2 bid submission. I am remaining on Bute in my new role as the Scottish Rural Parliament Coordinator for Scottish Rural Action. My last day in the Bute Forest office will be 20th Dec and from then onwards our contact arrangements will be changing – we will keep you updated about this. This is farewell but not goodbye!”