The craft of forestry is attracting a growing number of women
Felling large, diseased trees that pose a risk to the public is a very dangerous task, but it is all in a day’s work for our staff. Lesley Reilly, a expert chainsaw operator in our central region, has just felled a particularly large, diseased ash on the site of the former Wilsontown ironworks in Lanarkshire.
The tree – some 25m tall and around 1m in diameter - was growing alongside a public path through the forest, posing a danger to the public. This is just one of a number of large, complex, ash trees felled by Lesley recently. The tree felling process took our experienced team, led by Lesley, three hours to complete safely.
Felling diseased ash trees is a challenging and very dangerous task because the disease makes the timber brittle, increasing the risk of high up branches falling on people working below.
Now, the timber will be processed on site, using a mobile sawmill, due to the difficultly of otherwise extracting it from the forest surrounding it. The 1.25 tonnes of timber from the diseased ash will be put to good use: the wood is destined to be used to create bespoke furniture by a local maker.
Forestry has often been perceived as a profession dominated by men but Lesley – a Work Site Supervisor and expert chainsaw operator - is one of a number of women now working in our woodlands.
Previously a craftsperson maintaining the forests, Lesley started with us as an apprentice, in 2013. There are currently 40 apprentices learning their craft in our forests: 11 of these are women. There are also 10 female, mid-year students who have joined us in the past three years, as part of our work-based learning programme.
Speaking about the work done by Lesley, Doug Halliday from our Marketing and Sales Team, said:
“The challenges of bringing down trees like this one, safely, are immense. This was a particularly large and dangerous tree and all credit to Lesley for her technical expertise in achieving it. I’m also very pleased that the timber from this diseased tree will go to make furniture. A big selling point for bespoke furniture makers – and customers alike - is the history of the timber they work with."
Speaking about the career opportunities in the sector, Will Huckerby, Assistant Delivery Manager in our Central Region, said:
“With forestry more important now than it has ever been, the forestry sector in general is crying out for new people. Whether you start at college, sign up for an apprenticeship or learn your skills on the job, there are some great opportunities for building a career.
A career in forestry is hugely varied: it could see you working with communities, managing wildlife and helping to save threatened and endangered species, making sure that visitors get the most out of their forest experience or ensuring that the timber we produce gets to market.”
How to get started in forestry
Frontline jobs can range from seasonal work to full time employment and can cover a huge variety of roles and activities – from tree planting and forest management through to harvesting work. Other behind-the-scenes roles include business analysts and HR, GIS, finance and procurement.
Forestry qualifications to HNC, HND and B.Sc. level are available at a number of technical colleges and universities across the UK. We also offers several modern apprenticeship opportunities, including Trees and Timber.
We're currently hiring a range of forest-based roles like Lesley’s. You can find out more on our jobs page.