Ben Quarcoo, operations forester for Forestry and Land Scotland

I HAVE worked in forestry for 14 years and cover the central belt stretching all the way from South Lanarkshire up towards Stirling.

My area includes Whitelee Forest at Eaglesham Moor, the Kilpatrick Hills, Lennox Forest, the Campsie Fells and into the Carron Valley. Most of the land isn't within high population areas, but there are some woods in or around towns or cities such as Cardowan Moss in Easterhouse, Drumchapel Woods and Greenoakhill near Glasgow.

I was born and grew up in Ghana. It is in the tropical belt and the persistent heavy downpours – there is only a short dry season – help to create broad-ranging diversity. The trees grow almost year-round, but here in Scotland we have two distinct growing seasons: spring and summer.

Before moving to the UK, I worked for the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi where I researched forest management, soil civilisation, tree establishment and water catchment quality. I completed a master's degree in environmental forestry management at Bangor University in Wales and joined Forestry and Land Scotland, formerly Forest Enterprise Scotland.

You can't randomly choose a species of tree to grow. It is important to plant something that is suited to the climate and conditions. You need diversity of species to make the woodland resilient against disease and to provide different sources of food for birds and wildlife.

The productive wood we grow consists largely of conifers, the main one being sitka spruce which covers more than 80 per cent of the woodland we manage. Then there is Douglas fir, hybrid larch, Norway spruce, western red cedar, silver fir, lodgepole pine and Scots pine as well as oak, silver birch, ash, Norway maple and wych elm to name but a few.

It is difficult to pick a favourite tree. The main one that helps with industries is sitka spruce so we make sure it gets all the right conditions to establish and grow quickly to become a timber crop because many livelihoods are reliant on that. Rowan – although not commercial – protects a lot of bird species and wildlife. Downy birch and alder are important for diversity too.

My role involves everything from ensuring ground conditions are well prepared to managing drainage. There are utility services across the forest estate with gas pipelines, underground cables, water supplies and overhead powerlines all criss-crossing, so you need to know what you are doing and where you are digging. We construct firebreaks – clearing a strip of open space at least five metres wide – so that if wildfire breaks out it can't quickly ravage the forest.

Wildlife is another thing to consider. Red deer can give us grief as they go for the trees that we have newly planted. We build deer fences and must manage the population numbers. Other species we regularly encounter are sika deer and roe deer.

Ospreys arrive in April and leave again for Africa in late summer. We need to ensure their nests are protected and not disturbed. If we work too closely nearby, they can become frightened and may not have a successful outcome while nesting. Other birdlife we regularly see include black grouse, capercaillie, peregrines – which nest in rocks – and huge sea eagles.