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‘Smell of the rosin - noise of the saw’
Forestry Memories
 Open Document 
No: 988   Contributor: Norman Davidson   Year: 2007
‘Smell of the rosin - noise of the saw’

The first of a series of Touchwood History publications this one highlighting the story of forestry in Mid-Argyll in the 20th century written by Mairi Stewart and published by the Forestry Commission.

The PDF which can be accessed above shows the inside front page and lists the topics covered.

Booklets can be purchased from Forestry Commission Publications www.forestry.gov.uk/publications under their miscellaneous category and stock code FCMS113 (ISBN 978-085538-745-7) £5.

The foreword in the booklet is written by Bob Dunsmore (at the time Conservator - Highland) and is copied below.

‘The history of the Forestry Commission is irrevocably linked with the changing rural culture of Scotland in the twentieth century. Few families who have lived in the North and West do not have some link, tenuous or direct.

I joined the Forestry Commission twice, each time in Argyll so I am biased in thinking that it is an ideal location to begin what will clearly become an enduring project. I changed from urban to rural and never looked back. I quickly discovered the extent to which the Commission attracted loyalty and many, including myself stayed for most of their working lives.

The Forestry Commission has evolved dramatically, from the early days with an often insular, pioneering approach, focused on bringing back the trees, to an organisation which understands the wider functions of forests and the responsibilities which that brings to the environment and to communities in Scotland. At all stages of this evolution the Forestry Commission has had a reputation for making things happen due partly to the rich array of individual characters and partly to the culture of the organisation itself. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, evolution gave way to a number of quantum leaps. The first was a commitment to put conservation of landscape and environment at the centre of forest practice. The other in my view has been in our interactions with people and in particular rural (and now urban) communities.

In reality the “Commission” always had people who knew about and cared for wildlife and the environment and its social conscience came in many guises. So these changes often came as a result of internal, as well as external, influences. The Commission pioneered many of the techniques which allowed trees to be established in often hostile conditions (the many interviews reflect this) and the increasing numbers of foreign visitors coming to look at forestry in Scotland are surprised at the scale of this success.

It has been the rediscovery of our links with community and culture that has brought us into contact with people like Jim Hunter of UHI and Robert Livingston of Hi-Arts who have a reputation in their own fields for getting things done and without whom this project would not have come to fruition. Jim Hunter introduced us to Hugo Manson who has shared the skills of recording history with an ever increasing band of enthusiasts who now know that it takes a great deal longer to prepare for and process an interview than it does to carry one out.

When this project started it would have been impossible to anticipate the scale of enthusiasm and knowledge that has emerged. The project has only succeeded as a result of all those who have been involved in setting up microphones, recalling events and rooting out photographs, forest signs and other fascinating memorabilia. Now even I know what a blog is!'

Bob Dunsmore


Other Touchwood History booklets available at the time of writing are:

‘The forest is a beautiful place to be’ - the story of forestry in The Great Glen in the 20th century.

‘No rivalry but different’ – the story of forestry in and around Glenmore and Rothiemurchus in the 20th century.

‘The forgotten forest’ – the story of Whitelee Forest in the 20th century.


Picture added on 02 September 2011
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