A new six-part series starting on Monday will focus on the men and women who live and work in the vast Galloway Forest.
With 400 square miles of dramatic woodland, magnificent scenery and abundant wildlife, it is often referred to as the ‘highlands of the lowlands’, celebrated for its wild beauty and dark skies.
Managed by the Forestry Commission for the public to enjoy the area attracts over 800,000 visitors each year.
But Galloway Forest Park is also the major player in Scotland’s billion-pound timber industry.
Established in 1947 to meet the demands for timber in post war Britain, today it is still the UK’s largest afforested area producing 600,000 tonnes of timber a year.
Filmed over the course of six months, the spectacular series The Forest – narrated by actor Mark Bonnar – follows the extraordinary men and women who live and work in the Galloway Forest; from highly skill chainsaw operators harvesting trees from the forest’s most dangerous terrain to the Wildlife Rangers protecting rare and endangered species.
From the tree planters who’ve planted a million trees to the sawmill workers who power through 20,000 logs a day. And from astronomers to rally drivers, the series gives unique and surprising insight to the world of Galloway forest, viewed by some as a park and by others as a factory that just keeps growing.
It has been made for BBC Scotland by Tern TV, whose previous series have included The River, following people who live and work along the Tweed in the Borders, The Mountain which focussed on people in the area of Aviemore.
In the first episode of this new series, The Forestry Commission’s Recreation Team lead by Archie McNeillie is asked by the local community council from the remote village of Barr to rebuild steps on a well-worn pathway at Fairy Knowe.
Trouble is the steps are up a 330 foot hill.
Getting hunks of granite rock to the remote hill is one problem, and digging them in by hand is another – for labourer John ‘Cool’ Coughtrie at least. A team of specialist contractors roll in to Galloway Forest from Wales to harvest timber from the most inaccessible areas using a massive system of cables and winches called the Skyline.
The boss of the team Dewi Williams says: “The Skyline is probably one of the most dangerous jobs you can do in this country…There’s a lot of things to go wrong.”
Deep in the forest at a hidden location, conservationists Bill and Christine Russell have a very unusual occupation. They breed and hand-rear hyacinth macaws, the world’s largest flying parrot, to sell to zoos and private owners. The business thrives on how many successful hatchlings they can raise every year. They need at least 12, but this season they have a problem with egg after egg proving to be infertile.
And on a remote peatbog the size of 32 football pitches, Graeme Little has built his own customized Mulching machine to chew up spruce trees and spit them back out again on the land, in a conservation project to restore the natural habitat.
• Watch it on BBC One Scotland at 7.30pm on Monday.
Pictures: Tern TV/BBC Scotland.