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Environment, Agriculture & Conservation careers

Forestry, Trees & Timber

Getting to the top of the career tree, branch by branch…

You might not think that many jobs exist in the forestry, timber and trees subsector, except for people who like wearing checked shirts, sporting beards, wielding big chainsaws and shouting “TIMBER!” at the top of their voices.

However, a wealth of important careers in the forestry, timber and trees industries do exist in the 21st century. Really? Yes, so keep on reading to find out more.

Why is it important? What does it involve?

Trees provide us with many materials, products and other things that we could not live without. We need to harvest wood for building materials; we need trees for the food and fuel that they provide; we wouldn’t be able to play autumn’s most awesome game (conkers) without horse chestnut trees; and, most importantly, we wouldn’t be able to breathe without trees. It’s true! Trees filter carbon dioxide and breathe out the oxygen we need to breathe in. Consequently, without the people who plant and protect our forests, mankind would perish.

Wait a second though! If we need trees to breathe, then why are we cutting them down for buildings and books? Well, don’t worry. Advances in technology and increased environmental concerns have facilitated modern sustainable forestry initiatives in the UK, which means that tons of careers are dedicated to making sure our forests are here to stay. Indeed, in properly managed forests, all trees that are felled are replaced by newly planted ones.

Modern technology has seriously improved the forestry and timber industry. Computers, GPS systems and other ‘cutting edge’ technologies (get it?) have made harvesting, production and planting much more efficient.

Many different types of careers exist in this industry, from managerial, planning and strategic roles to technical and scientific positions. It’s no longer only hirsute gentlemen of the forest that work in this area. Many women work in a range of roles in the industry too, and only a few of them have beards!

Break it down for me a little bit!

Careers in forestry management are incredibly varied in scope and immensely important in looking after woodland conservation, recreation, timber harvesting and production activities.

These people maintain and manage forest activity and handle all issues regarding specific wooded areas under their jurisdiction. People in these careers work to balance the interests of commercial enterprises, the public and organisations concerned with biodiversity. Their priorities are sustainability and regeneration, whilst facilitating essential commercial activity.

Early on in your forestry career you are more likely to spend most of your time working outdoors, carrying out activities such as assessing the safety of certain trees, surveying patches of land, planning recreational uses of the forest and calculating the size of trees. However, as you progress you are likely to have much more strategic, consultative and managerial responsibilities as a forestry manager or forestry consultant.

The timber industry is big business and provides essential wood resources to many different industries. However, before wood can be used effectively, essential forest harvesting, sawmilling and timber engineering operations have to take place.

Forest harvesting usually involves a huge swell of technical and haulage activity on a specific woodland area. Job roles range from site managers and skidder drivers, to chainsaw operators and timber lorry drivers that transport timber to sawmills for essential production work.

In the aftermath of this activity, consultants and surveyors are required to monitor the harvested area for environmental impacts. More and more complex I.T. equipment is being used in harvesting activity and a range of skilled technicians are therefore required to operate the advanced machinery.

Careers in sawmilling are essential in transforming felled trees into useable wood resources. Once saw milling has been carried out and wood resources have been processed, a plethora of goods that we use in our daily lives can be created and constructed, such as frames for buildings, wooden furniture and fences.

Many careers are available in this arena, including: machine operatives, mechanics, warehouse staff, and people in managerial and supply chain roles.

In order for timber to be used for major construction projects, its power needs to be harnessed effectively. Consequently, more and more careers are becoming available in timber engineering.

People working in these jobs use their engineering, technological and design skills to treat and manipulate wood to make it stronger and turn it into a more viable construction material. Technological advances are being made all the time and this is ensuring that wood can be made more durable and more resistant to fire.

You might have heard of something called tree surgeons, but you might not know what they do. These guys work within the rewarding world of ‘arboriculture’. Careers in this area are primarily concerned with the physical management of trees in public and community spaces, and on private properties.

Basically, these jobs are not your average, nine-to-five office jobs. Ever fancied climbing trees as part of your job? Arborist craftsmen have pretty fun and dangerous jobs which involve climbing trees and carrying out pruning, cutting and grinding responsibilities to treat tree diseases and maintain the health of wooded areas.

There are also opportunities for progression into supervisory and management positions that oversee arboricultural activities and make sure that they comply with public interest and safety guidelines.

Finally, there are also opportunities to develop a career in forest education. With increasing environmental concerns, it’s essential that people’s understanding of the necessity for woodland and forests is developed. Careers in this area can revolve around public awareness initiatives and direct teaching activities in schools and learning centres.

Fancy swinging around trees like Tarzan for your day job? No?! Well, that’s okay – not many people do. Luckily for you there are plenty of other important jobs in the forestry, timber and trees subsector that might be exactly what you’re looking for!