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The Final Forest District Managers’ Meeting
Forestry Memories
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No: 4283   Contributor: Norman Davidson   Year: 2018
The Final Forest District Managers’ Meeting

The photograph is courtesy of Gordon Donaldson formerly District Manager of Cowal and Trossacks who notes:

‘This was taken on Tuesday the 25th September at the last ever Forest District Managers’ meeting. The Location was Whitegates, Lochgilphead the former West Argyll FD Office.

Those present are:

1. Matt Young – Tay Forest District;
2. Colin Hossack – Galloway Forest District
3. John Thomson - Moray and Aberdeenshire Forest District
4. Gordon Donaldson - Cowal and Trossachs Forest District
5. Sallie Bailey - Dumfries and Borders Forest District
6. Charlie Taylor – Originally Tay FD then transition and FDM line manger
7. Stuart Chalmers - Scottish Lowlands Forest District
8. David Jardine - West Argyll Forest District.

Technically still at this point there were still 10 forest districts. Missing from this group are:
1. Graeme Prest - Inverness Ross and Skye Forest District;
2. Malcolm MacDougall - North Highland Forest District also
3. Andy Hunt of Lochaber Forest District who had left the District Manager role by this time. Lochaber was being covered by David Jardine for the short period before the move to the new West Region, which is a straight merger of West Argyll and Lochaber Forest Districts.’

And so Scotland’s state forest management structure (the Forest Enterprise element of the Forestry Commission) evolves yet again and this time in its 99th year of existence. The new format will reform from 10 Forest Districts to 5 Regions.

Those of you with a long memory and an eye for detail might just remember that from the very early days there were three Divisions in Scotland supported by a number of Districts in each but the individual production unit was the actual forest. Around 1945 the Divisions gave way to the North, South, East and West Conservancies by this time four in number. The numbers of Districts supporting the Conservancies was close to 27 but by this era the total of forests units had reached 160 in number.

The 1960s introduced the reign of the Chief Forester whereby groups of neighbouring forests were amalgamated into larger units with better offices and a complement of perhaps two clerical staff and three to four or more foresters. By 1982 this had the effect of reducing the numbers of actual forest units in Scotland down to around 87 with Conservancies and Districts numbers remaining much the same as at 1950.

The period 1983 to 1984 saw the most radical change of state forest management structures with the introduction of the Forest District and the amalgamation of the Forester and District Officer grades. In effect one layer of management was removed (Forest Districts reported directly to Conservancies) and yet larger groupings of forests into a Forest District enabled much better communications, computer installation and complex programming to be done at the coal face. It is hard to believe now but on the first introduction of Forest Districts there were a total of 27 including a few smaller ones such as Mull and Kincardine which were classed as FOII charges (see map attached in PDF)
A few years further on Conservancies also evolved and amalgamated until the advent of the creation of the separated management structures of Forest Enterprise (FE Scotland ) and Forestry Authority (FC Scotland ) circa 1992. The two Forest Enterprise units of North and South Scotland eventually merged into one Chief Executive agency based in Inverness in the early 2000s, the numbers of Forest Districts reformed into 14 units by 2006 and merged again down to 10 units before 2015.

The above is a very broad outline of almost 100 years of state forestry evolution but does not cover may notable twists and turns along the way, WWII or national devolution.

Any comments and corrections always very welcome.
Picture added on 25 October 2018 at 09:01
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