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A group of trainees from North Lanarkshire have taken part in a project which aims to improve their employment prospects through training and working outdoors. Two squads of six were involved with thinning and conservation work in Orchardton Woodland next to Broadwood Loch and Palacerigg Country Park.

The session for this first group ran from January to July 2014. It set out two objectives for the teams: to gain skills to increase future employment opportunities and to deliver thinning and conservation work identified by North Lanarkshire Council.

The participants received training and experience in a number of areas including:

  • Two chainsaw licenses from Informed Tree Services (NPTC trainers)
  • Silviculture and Tree Identification training
  • Biodiversity training sessions to
  • identifiy habitats of local fauna
  • understand the impact woodland management has on them
  • Emergency First Aid training
  • Manual handling training
  • Employability training with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)

In addition, it was noted by the supervisors that the participants gained other skills and benefits, such as:

  • Self confidence
  • Motivation
  • Experience of a workplace/routine
  • Responsibility / sense of ownership
  • Health and fitness
  • Problem solving
  • Team working
  • Practice sharing

The work that the teams completed for North Lanarkshire Council was considerable, benefiting the local environment and community:

  • Delivery of over 594m3 of timber
  • Thinning works over several locations
  • 374m path construction and improvement
  • 217m of drainage
  • 200,900m2 of shrub clearance
  • 500m2 of coppicing

Another area of work for one squad was to clean and paint fences and huts at one of the site’s children’s farm. This also presented an opportunity to engage the public with their new knowledge of the area. We were also able to gain informal feedback that the public felt the area looked good and were pleased to see it was well looked after.

The accompanying report provides an insight into the impact that the ILM project had on two groups of trainees and the local community where they worked. It is given from the two supervisors’ points of view.