Sunday, 30 September 2012

Torridon Forestry Report for Mike

I have been on an important mission these last few days, for which I hope to be handsomely rewarded.

Let me explain the context.

Do you remember my friends border terrier Bonnie and poodle Jack? They live just down the street from me with their humans Mike and Kirsty.

Well Mike is contemplating buying some land on the island of Islay (Kirsty's home territory) and planting a forest there, comprising only native Scottish trees. Apparently you can get government grants for this sort of thing.

As you may be aware, Islay is better known for whisky (Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila etc.) than for forestry, and naturally, having heard of my very important ongoing role as Associate Webguide Volunteer for the VisitWoods project, Mike was keen to enlist my services as advisor to the new venture.

Well it just so happens that in the area around our Loch Torridon cottage, several similar woodland projects have taken root over the past decade. Torridon, like Islay, is on the west coast of Scotland and poses many of the same environmental challenges to the would-be forester - wet weather, low levels of sunlight, frequent gales, nutrient poor soils, biting midges...

So anyway, I decided to go over and inspect the progress of the trees planted on the north shore of Loch Torridon eight years ago, and compile a report for Mike. The results are presented below:

Bertie's report for Mike

First, I would like to point out that these plantations must all be fenced off so that sheep and deer cannot nibble away at the saplings. This is totally brilliant because it means that, within their boundaries I am always allowed off the lead and can run free. (Gail has this 'thing' about me running after sheep and deer). Of course, if all goes well, in a few years the woods will be populated with red squirrels and pine martens which are tremendous fun to chase is good as these are vulnerable species.

Secondly, as is clear from the photos below, even at a young age, the trees add texture and variety to the landscape. Thus humans enjoy going for walks in these new woodlands, which is always a positive from a canine perspective.

Furthermore, when the trees finally mature they form a partial canopy, kind of like an umbrella, and provide protection from stormy weather, thus eliminating at least one common human excuse for not exercising their dog(s). See this example from the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve.

Thirdly, it appears that the new Torridon trees are thriving, in particular the Scots pines. Note that, for formal surveys, it is always useful to take along a wire-haired fox terrier, shoulder heights 43 cm, for scale.

Finally, all forests are of course a 'carbon sink', sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and so reducing the chances that Scotland will ever become too hot for a wire-haired fox terrier to enjoy year round romps over our beautiful countryside.

So, in conclusion, these new areas of native woodland are great for dogs and the more we plant the better.

My recommendation is that the Islay forest project should proceed as soon as it is practicable to arrange for Bonnie, Jack and me to travel over to the island to supervise. Am I right in understanding that dogs go for free on the ferry? Oh and I believe that Gail would like to come to, she mentioned something about a distillery visit....


Well, I think Mike should be pleased with this comprehensive report, don't you? I wonder how much I should charge him?

What's that? Gail is saying that I have neglected the first rule of report writing for clients, which is, apparently, writing about things that are important to them, rather than focussing on one's own priorities. And that I will be fortunate to earn a single dog biscuit for my efforts, much less an expenses paid trip to Islay...


  1. Bertie,

    Your report gets four paws up from me, as I think your dog's eye veiw is perfect. Some humans only see the big picture, but your level of reporting is just right for assessing if the place is suitable for Gail to take to you to Islay for reasons other than sampling the amber liquid.


  2. Nice report Bertie but we got a bit stuck at the mention of whisky. Love your posts as it makes Scotland come alive. Long time not been. Have a super Sunday.
    Best wishes Molly

  3. I like the idea! Where these areas wooded before?


  4. hey Bertie,

    Excellent report! Your unique canine perspective will provide Bonnie and Jack all they need to know to persuade their humans to proceed with forest planting. The photographs especially make the report, they are gorgeous! And they will give the humans, Mike and Kirsty, the visual information humans so depend on when making tough decisions. [Example: our furry adorable and stunning faces are what swayed our humans to adopt us in the first place, not a report on our personality.]

    I think a box of dog biscuits is a fair price for your hard work. Eat up!


  5. Thank you Bertie

    I place some considerable value on this report, given the provenance and authority of its author on such matters. Your experience in the Torridon area is a matter of proud record. Your ability to distil and then focus on the things that will be of particular interest to this clients dogs: almost surreal.

    We are now probably in the unique position, as future foresters, of having consulted and received advise from 2 distinct species (a forestry consultant of the one species normally used for such consultation purposes did a first report, you did the second) - a point Id like to think sets us up in a league of our own in our ongoing dialogue with Argyll Council. And possibly a world first.

    Thank you.

    And a word of thanks to your agent and interlocutor, without whom we may not have been able to truely grasp the significant and nuance and depth of your report.

    The people down the road

    PS There is a matter regarding current denizens of the piece of land in question that we'd want to go over with you, before your proposed visit ... just a detail ... though suffice to say it involves a 3rd species not always noted for their natural welcoming charm ... a mere detail

  6. That was awesome Bertie. You need one of those Sherlock Holmes hats while your working in the field
    Benny & Lily

  7. Howdy Bertie, sounds like Mike thought your report was perfect. We hope your Gail reads his comment and opens up that biscuit box a little wider. Sheep chasing Bertie? You're my kinda guy. Take care all. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory

  8. No Bertie, Gail's wrong on this report. Mike NEEDS to know the positive impact of this venture on important animals such as ourselves, so he can realise how vital this venture is.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

  9. That sure is beautiful there Bertie! I think that Mike will love it even more once he receives and reads your report.

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  10. I Sooo agree with Daisy and Bella and Roxy. Your Gail is just misguided.. You will need to put her on HER walking string and get her back on the RIGHT TRACK.
    I think that this Mr. Mike will be THRILLED to know how much this will mean to YOU. I'll bet he gives you Free Passage and a WHOLE BOX of treats fur your FINE Assessment and In-depth coverage. BRAVO Buddy. Write On!!

  11. Firstly, beautiful header picture. Secondly, a fine and through report...but lastly, what is this "third species" Mike speaks of??? Please advise us.

    -Bart and Ruby

    1. I believe that Mike is referring to some feral goats. As if they would pose a problem for a feisty pup like me.

  12. Just beautiful, how we wish we could live in a little cottage in Scotland instead of a crowded street in New Jersey. Oh well, the important thing is love and we have all of our tea pot collection to remind us of our imaginary home in the UK

    urban hounds

  13. Bertie - You look just like the Monarch of the Glen in that top photo.

  14. Great report, Bertie, and gorgeous scenery! I'm particularly interested in the part about red squirrels and pine martens; maybe your friend could use a second opinion from a dachshund? :)

    I think the going rate for your professional services should be 90-100 dog biscuits an hour plus tax.

  15. Bertie, as always, your photos are beautiful and I found your report most interesting and informative. I think you should have gotten the pay up front though, just to be safe.

    Loveys Sasha

  16. You are an absolute treasure Bertie.... consider a spin off from Location Location Location. You are so much less annoying than that bl**dy Phil and Kirsty.... Deccy x

  17. Hi Bertie pleasure to have you as our guest. Please can you pop by with your nomination for next Sunday. Thanks
    Best wishes Molly

  18. Bertie you continue to astound us with your reports. You are indeed wise beyond your years.

  19. Clearly Mike is a client of discerning judgement; he had the sense to engage you and the wisdom to appreciate the worth of your fine report. We were also curious about the 'third species' and are relieved to find it is probably just goats and not large birds of prey that might snatch small, adventurous canines in the virtuous pursuit of their [the canines] forestry duties. That didn't quite trip off the tongue, but mama is so rusty she squeaks.

    Jed & Abby

  20. Deawest Bewtie
    I thought youw wepawt was compwehensive and complete and you should be paid extwa bickies fow emphasizing the benefits fow extenshun theiw hoomans..if Mike would have wanted a pawson's pawspective, he should have asked a pawson

    dwinks and bikkies fow all!
    smoochie kisses

  21. Well Bertie I enjoyed your report and found contrary to Gail's perspective that it was spot on as far as covering the important stuff like fenced in areas for us to romp off leash, trees that provide homes for critters we can chase and a blockage of wind so peeps will take us there more often :)

    I hope your furiend gets the grant and you get a new grand place to visit! :D

    Waggin at ya,

    PeeS: Bet ya got at least one biscuit for your thorough yet mostly dog focused report ;)