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Combined business expands in forestry sector Athole McKillop explains some of the benefits of Land Factor’s merger with Galbraith. at the time of writing, we are just days into the merger of land Factor with Galbraith. I look forward with great enthusiasm to the opportunities this brings for our combined operations in the rural sector across Scotland and Northern England, particularly in terms of forestry and woodland management, creation and investment. I graduated from Aberdeen University with a forestry degree in the mid-1980s. With a wider interest in land management I decided to join a rural surveying firm rather than the then popular route to one of the large forestry businesses that existed at the time or the Forestry Commission. Following a few years in Crieff, Perthshire and after qualifying with the Institute of Chartered Foresters and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, I moved south to Cumbria in the early 1990s. I operate across various aspects of rural management and professional work, but my passion and speciality has remained in the forestry sector. To this end I have been actively involved with Confor for many years, both locally and nationally, currently as chair of the board. I was joined by Russell Porter, also a graduate of Aberdeen University, in the late 1990s after he had spent a year with another large firm of rural surveyors. Russell has worked with Land Factor and our predecessor businesses supporting our forestry and estate clients up to our merger with Galbraith and shares my enthusiasm and optimism for future developments as part of the combined business. He has a particular interest in managing contract operations including significant harvest programmes, restocking and new woodland creation alongside a self taught skill in data management via GIS and associated databases. Our bases in Penrith, Cumbria and the former Land Factor head office in Hexham, have allowed us to serve a varied client base. Our work includes very varied estate woodlands, large and

New partners: From left, back row: Roddy Findlay, Athole McKillop and Peter Combe. Front row: Galbraith head of energy Mike Reid, Tom Warde-Aldam, Galbraith chairman Iain Russell and senior associate Matthew Williamson.

small, as well as commercial forestry investment properties on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall. Traditionally we have focused on forestry management as our core offering. Alongside this we have undertaken many smaller scale woodland creation projects. Our geographic knit with Galbraith is an obvious one and many of the forestry professional skills and offerings of both business overlap, be that day-to-day management operations or the use of technology such as GIS and drones. The opportunities for carbon to form part of a forestry investment offering, not just in terms of the limited corporate social responsibility funding or the recognition of carbon as part of the general public services and benefits offered by forestry, is being explored by Galbraith. Although it is still early days since the introduction of the Woodland Carbon Code we look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas on how this may be developed as part of the investment opportunity. Woodland and forestry creation has moved to levels unseen for decades in Scotland. The wide benefits the forestry sector contributes to the rural economy of Scotland have been highlighted by Confor in recent years. This has been picked up by Holyrood and significant changes to the approach and process of dealing with new planting schemes have ensued. Scotland’s Forestry Strategy, prepared under the focused eye of Fergus Ewing, should set a path to steer for the sector to continue the success and development of our industry over coming years. This should protect against future changes in government priorities derailing the progress of the sector.

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We have been exploring the new opportunities this has opened up and as a wider business we see the ability to develop this further. South of the border the Westminster Government, despite much enthusiasm about what forestry and woodlands offer, has failed to deliver any significant changes in terms of new productive woodland planting although we are beginning to see a limited upturn. It is early days, but work is progressing on the Forestry Investment Zone (FIZ) pilot in north-east Cumbria. Many accept that the location of this pilot is not ideal, but we can learn from it and we are taking an active interest. There is enthusiasm for FIZ’s to be developed in north-east England and in the southwest. We are optimistic that these will present opportunities to ease the way forward for woodland creation opportunities as these develop. The forestry sector offers great opportunities both for those already involved in it and for new entrants, be they young people wanting a fantastic career, existing farmers and landowners wanting to diversify and hedge against the inevitable reduction in rural subsidies or investors wanting to capture a part of a highly performing market with positive environmental credentials. At Galbraith there is a strong and expanded team of forestry professionals who will be very pleased to discuss opportunities with you, and I am very pleased to be part of that team.

athole.mckillop@galbraithgroup.com 01768 800 830

Profile for Galbraith

Galbraith Forestry Matters Summer 2019  

News and Insight from the Forestry Industry

Galbraith Forestry Matters Summer 2019  

News and Insight from the Forestry Industry