Gareth Ventress, environment forester

I fell into forestry. I was in the army and after I left was a little bit lost as to what to do next. I went travelling and did some volunteering in the Atlantic rainforest in Brazil. I spent three months building trails, lugging kit and helping researchers. I loved it and did a degree in environmental sciences.

I work for Forest Enterprise Scotland based in Galloway Forest. My role as an environment forester is to protect and restore wildlife, habitats and archaeology within what is a rural, but industrial landscape.

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Otters, pine martens, badgers, red squirrels and water voles are among the protected mammals that live in the area. There are 10 species of bats and a variety of birds that include golden eagles, hen harriers, black grouse, goshawks, common buzzards, black-throated divers, ospreys and red kite.

Last summer a natal den – a maternity roost – for a rare species called Leisler's bats was found. It was the first time we had confirmed that in the forest and only the second site in Scotland for a maternity roost. Officially there are nine species of bat in Scotland, but there is a 10th called a Brandt's bat that has only been confirmed in Galloway through DNA found in their droppings.

Midges are fairly partial to me. One of my favourite activities is going out just before sunset in July surveying for nightjars. The downside is if it is good conditions for nightjars, then it is great for midges. You stand around for two hours as the sun goes down getting eaten alive. If you're not being eaten alive then it is probably going to be a poor night for the survey. It is a bit of Catch 22. I have been known to wear a midge net and latex surgical gloves as protection.

An explosion was planned at a forest quarry to produce rock for a new road. We knew from our database that there was a pine marten den box in that area. Before the operation could be given the go-ahead, I needed to check and make sure weren't any pine martens trying to breed or a female with kits. If there had been we would have called it off until she and her kits had left the site.

The best part of this job is being out in the middle of nowhere and seeing a golden eagle flying down the valley or a pine marten crossing the forest track in front of me. Those moments make all the hours spent in the office doing paperwork worthwhile.

The Forest is on BBC One, Mondays, 7.30pm