Shock departure of Borders Forest Trust director confirmed

Callum Rankine Borders Forest Trust
Callum Rankine Borders Forest Trust

LESS than nine months after appointing him amid a blaze of publicity, Borders Forest Trust has announced that Callum Rankine is no longer its director.

The shock departure has been confirmed with a brief statement on the trust’s website, which gave away nothing more than the fact Mr Rankine’s contract had been terminated as of February 6 and thanked him for his, albeit brief, contribution.

Originally from Stirling, Mr Rankine’s CV included degrees in biology and geography, and a masters in ecology.

His experience included working for the former English Nature (now Natural England) as an ornithologist.

Moving to WWF, Mr Rankine worked his way up to become head of species conservation, protecting the likes of pandas and tigers.

Between 2006 and 2009, he was chief executive of the Mammal Society before setting up an environmental consultancy and a wildlife tourism business in Ross-shire.

Mr Rankine succeeded Willie McGhee as director of the trust, which manages more than 2,000ha of land and has planted more than a million native trees, in its aim to create a network of wild places with native woodlands and other habitats cared for by local communities.

Celebrating its 15th anniversary last year, the trust, a registered charity, also teaches woodland management skills and has developed forest schools and leads educational woodland visits.

Asked at the time of his appointment what difference he hoped to make, Mr Rankine told us: “I hope there will be a lot more native woodlands in the south of Scotland and more people involved, so people would have a local woodland near them which they can explore and maybe find the same sort of enjoyment I had as a child.”

Quizzed this week over the suddenness of Mr Rankine’s departure from the job, trust chairman John Hunt, who will be acting as interim director, said the trust was sorry things had turned out the way they have.

He told us: “It is a shame that after just nine months, Callum is no longer with us. All we want to say at this stage is that things just didn’t work out. But we are grateful to him for his contribution. We don’t want to go into more detail than that.”

Mr Hunt and his 12 fellow trustees were due to meet yesterday afternoon to discuss the recruitment of a new director.

The director is responsible for managing a team of nine staff who manage and deliver Borders Forest Trust’s projects, operating from the organisation’s head office at Monteviot Nurseries, near Jedburgh and from premises in Moffat.

The trust’s patron is television impressionist, broadcaster and writer, Rory Bremner.