University acclaim for lifetime’s work in forestry

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A life’s work dedicated to forestry and its history saw Norman Davidson awarded the accolade of Master of the University of the Highlands and Islands today (Saturday 20 September).

The award was given at the graduation ceremony for students of the North Highland College, University of the Highlands and Islands, which took place in Dornoch Cathedral.

Following a long and distinguished career in forestry – mostly with the Forestry Commission – Mr Davidson has, since 2008, been a driving force behind the UHI Centre for History’s project recording the ‘Social History of Forestry in Twentieth Century Scotland’. The project has also been supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and the Scottish Forestry Trust.

Dr David Worthington, Head of the Centre for History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, gave a citation at the event.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Dr Worthington said:

“Norman’s combination of practical forestry experience and engagement with its history amounts to over 50 years of expertise and knowledge that was both invaluable and indispensable throughout the project.

“His energy, enthusiasm and depth of knowledge were always evident - and his willingness to contact friends and former colleagues uncovered a treasure trove of memories, photographs and documents, all of which are now available online in the Highland Archive.

“His efforts have additionally furthered the university’s connections with industry and the wider public, to the great benefit of both.

“This award is a fantastic recognition of his contribution to the work of the University and the local economy.”

As well as gathering historic images and documents, Norman was also responsible for cataloguing them in meticulous detail for public presentation through the  ‘Forestry Memories’ website (

Mr Davidson continues to assist with the website, which has allowed a community of current and retired forestry professionals and their families and friends, to share experiences, reunite old friends and reconnect with both past and current forestry activity. 

Dr Worthington added;

“Norman has helped establish an important and moving legacy which would otherwise have been lost.”

Notes to Editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate

2.  As a sixteen-year old, Mr Davidson began a two year period of work on the Atholl Estates in Perthshire before undertaking Forestry Commission Forester Training School in Argyll. He spent two years on Voluntary Service Overseas in Sierra Leone before rejoining the Commission as a trainee forester in Lochaber. He gained experience in managing tree planting and harvesting including the introduction of new equipment for timber production for the new Fort William pulpmill in the 1970s. Promotion took him to Wester Ross and then to Sutherland before moving to Huntly in 1989 as the local manager responsible for the Commission’s  Aberdeenshire forests. He retired from Forestry Commission Scotland in 2006.

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4. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.

5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Officer, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590

Note to Photographers:

The graduation ceremony, in which Mr Davidson will be presented with a certificate and a postgraduate hood of the university, will commence at 2.00pm in Dornoch Cathedral. The citations will take place towards the end of the graduation ceremony, (approx 3.00 – 3.30pm).

There will be a reception at the Burghfield House Hotel, Dornoch from 3.30pm onwards.