Public bodies and Government agencies are usually the target of journalists, and rightly so: without that scrutiny God knows what the likes of Alexander Johnson would get up to.
I was reminded of this talking to a Polish friend recently, when I mentioned that journalism is … ahem … not the best-rewarded profession in the UK. She was shocked as she knows from her own country the value of a free press, and I have done my fair share of badgering politicians and local authorities and other people in power.
But just for once I want to big up the work of a Government agency: Forestry and Land Scotland.
Who they? you say… it is of course the new name for the part of Forestry Commission Scotland that’s been turned into a separate agency. Anyhow, they are sometimes maligned for charging for parking, and obviously the many acres of Sitka spruce they planted back in the day are not the most popular part of our landscape.
But they do lots of good things. Before the name change they supported the archaeological dig I worked on in Glen Nevis a couple of years back …
Then they have constructed all sorts of mountain bike tracks in their woodland, which I’ve used for years and thoroughly enjoyed.
Most recently I visited their woodland at The Lodge at Aberfoyle. Not my usual idea of a day out, too touristy. But with an eight-year-old and a disabled person along, what could be better? We were able to borrow a wheelchair and our wee pal could run around through the woods, exploring the tasteful but exciting added extras on to the Waterfall Walk.
Much of the site is given over to the Go Ape operation: the zipwires and treetop trails don’t seem to be too intrusive, and in fact Go Ape run the pretty decent cafe too.
It feels like this particular public body has got the message that it’s looking after an asset that belongs to us and we should be able to use it. I don’t want to spoilt the positive mood, but perhaps this could be an example for others …