Scots conservation charity appoint CEO

Future Woodlands Scotland – a Scottish charity working to create and conserve native woodlands – has appointed its first ever chief executive officer to support its expansion plans.

Shireen Chambers, MBE, is currently executive director of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and senior leadership experience of the forestry sector. She will take up her new role in August 2022.

The new appointment marks the next step in the conservation charity’s journey, having been set up in 2012 to fund innovative thinking for native woodlands.

Shireen’s primary objective will be to drive forward the charity’s mission: to create more opportunities for individuals, communities and organisations to boost Scotland’s woodlands through expanded and enhanced funding programmes, policy and new partnerships.

She joins Future Woodlands Scotland midway through the £2m Future Woodlands Fund pilot, which has been made possible by support from energy company bp. The scheme aims to establish one million trees by November 2023, with the potential to lock up 235,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2080. It offers land managers free advice and support and a financially attractive, low risk way to plant or regenerate native trees.

Shireen said: ‘I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join and lead the team at such a pivotal time. As we look forward to the future, I am excited to work with the passionate staff and Board of Trustees, as well as existing and new partners to build on the charity’s excellent work.

‘I am also keen to further our role to campaign for and celebrate collaborations that will help us see a Scotland in which trees and native woodlands are thriving for our wildlife, communities and climate.

‘Trees have an amazing ability to inspire people and to have a positive and far-reaching impact on the environment. Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing an increased interest in trees as a solution to enhanced biodiversity. I plan to bring my experience, energy and enthusiasm to help Future Woodlands Scotland enhance and extend the green and woodland spaces of Scotland.”

Shireen will fulfil her existing commitments as Executive Director of the Institute of Chartered Foresters until June 2022.

Tim Hall, chair of Future Woodlands Scotland, said: ‘The trustees and staff are delighted that Shireen is to head-up the charity as our first-ever CEO. She has all the drive, skills and passion necessary to build on all that Future Woodlands Scotland has achieved over the last 10 years and to lead the organisation through its next ambitious phase.

‘She is joining us at a key moment in our development as we focus on the benefits that trees and native woodlands can bring to our rural and urban environments in Scotland. Having a CEO will give us that extra resource to deliver a significant step change in the support we offer.’

Shireen studied forestry and soil science at Bangor University before embarking on a career overseas, working with the Government of the Bahamas to set up a new forestry department. She returned to the UK to work with the Central Scotland Forest and continued as a practitioner in community and urban forestry.

She has been Executive Director of the Institute of Chartered Foresters since 2006 and will leave the post in June 2022. During this time, she oversaw a doubling of member numbers, and the creation of a more professional and inclusive organisation gaining political enthusiasm and understanding of forestry. She was appointed MBE by the Queen in 2019’s Birthday Honours for her contribution to the sector.

Her non-executive board appointments have included Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Forest Research, Forestry Commission’s Regional Advisory Committee for Mid-Scotland (Chair) and Edinburgh Green Belt Trust. She was appointed Chair of TREE AID Board of Trustees in 2017.

Future Woodlands Scotland is a Scottish charity that has been working since 2012 to create, restore and increase understanding of native woodlands in Scotland. Its vision is for a Scotland in which trees and native woodlands are thriving for our wildlife, communities and climate.

Future Woodlands Scotland currently have two streams of activity:

  • Future Woodlands Fund. A pilot scheme that offers free advice, support and funding to encourage farmers and land managers in Scotland to create new native woodland and restore degraded ancient woodlands.
  • Research and Innovation Grants of up to £10,000 to fund academic research but also new ideas and approaches that will benefit Scotland’s native woodlands.