A young geography student and mountain bike enthusiast is set to follow in the footsteps of acclaimed Scottish naturalist Dick Balharry.
They will travel abroad to further his studies, thanks to a new educational award from the National Trust for Scotland and the University of Highlands and Islands.
Douglas Carchrie (19), from Perthshire, has secured the first ever award of the Dick Balharry Prize, a £3000 travel bursary which was set up to give young people studying in a wide range of land management subjects, including estate management, forestry and agriculture the chance to travel to further their experience, studies and employability.
Douglas, a BSc (Hons) geography student at Inverness College UHI, will use the fund to travel to Vancouver in Canada on a four week study trip later this year, to learn about the management of mountain bike trails in environmentally sensitive areas.
The recipient was selected from students who attended the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Integrated Land Use Conference – Future of the Uplands – in March 2018.
Stuart Brooks, head of Natural Heritage Policy at the National Trust for Scotland said: ‘During this Year of Young People, the Trust is pleased to be helping the next generation of land managers develop the skills and experience Scotland needs to help our environment and communities thrive.’
David Balharry, environmentalist and Dick’s son, awarded the prize to Douglas.
David said: ‘Father was an inspired and independent thinker with a huge passion for Scotland and people. This award, giving young people the opportunity to travel internationally is a fitting way to maintain his legacy and our family are delighted that Douglas will be given this incredible opportunity.’
On receiving the prize Douglas added: ‘I was really surprised to have won but am now excited about the adventure to come.
‘I’m a passionate mountain biker and think the experience I will gain in Vancouver could really help my future career. I want to help Scotland protect its environment and allow people to experience it in exciting and new ways.’
Sue Engstrand, organiser of the Integrated Land Use Conference said: ‘The University is very grateful to the National Trust for Scotland and the Balharry family for introducing the Dick Balharry Prize.
‘The prize is an amazing opportunity for one of our students to continue their learning journey and is a great addition to our annual Integrated Land Use Conference.’
Dick Balharry served as chair of the National Trust for Scotland from 2009–10. After his death in April 2015, the charity announced plans to create an education programme as a memorial to his contribution to conservation in Scotland and beyond.
He had worked as a gamekeeper, stalker, ecologist and land manager throughout his career, before going on to serve as Chair of the John Muir Trust and the National Trust for Scotland. He spoke of the importance of a trip to the US in influencing his own views on land management, access and conservation.