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KWES partnership developing foresters for the future
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A new forestry qualification developed by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) with qualifications provider ABC has proved just the ticket for one charity in Kent helping people move into the sector.

The Horticultural Correspondence College was the first centre to offer the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry - the theory component of the RFS Certificate in Forestry qualification.

And now an exciting partnership has been formed between the Kent Woodland Employment Scheme (KWES) and the Horticultural Correspondence College.

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Pursuing his goal of a career in woodland conservation: KWES trainee George Haynes with Team Leader Lee Bassett

RFS Education Manager Phil Tanner explains: "This new qualification is specifically designed to meet the needs of woodland owners and managers as they seek to achieve targeted increases in the number of woodlands under management. Prospective employers can be sure that those who hold the RFS Certificate in Forestry have achieved excellence in forestry across a range of theory topics and practical skills."

KWES is a charity set up to provide training and employment for ex-Service personnel, young people and ex-offenders from Kent using woodlands from within the county. It has enrolled all their trainees onto the theory component of the Certificate in Forestry via the Horticultural Correspondence College.

For George Haynes, who had previously attended a Landscape and Countryside Management course at Hadlow College, it will help him meet his goal of a career in practical woodland conservation. He says: "So far the experience has been an extremely enjoyable one; learning the techniques involved in felling larger trees has been particularly interesting. I’m really looking forward to the various courses and skills that I will be learning over the next three years."

KWES was particularly impressed with the flexibility provided by the correspondence course that allows their trainees to receive practical training in the ancient woodlands in Kent in which they mainly work.

The Trust’s Chairman, Allison Wainman, said: “Managing ancient woodlands can be difficult because of their often steep terrain as well as problems caused by roads and railways that criss-cross sites. This excellent training provision means our trainees will have both technical skills and much experience by the end of their course, enabling them to move swiftly into an industry developing healthy and sustainable forests and woodland and a home grown timber industry.”

KWES trainees will complete the theory qualification at their own speed via distance learning with the support of professional foresters employed by KWES. At the same time trainees will be completing practical hands on forestry work with the same forestry professionals. At the end of the year they will have achieved the ABC Level 2 Certificate in Forestry which is a standalone qualification in its own right.

During the year trainees will also complete a range of practical awards in chainsaw use and tree felling to meet the standards of the full RFS Certificate in Forestry. This approach, covering both theory and practical qualifications with the additional support of daily practical on the job forestry experience, will develop a group of knowledgeable, skilled and experienced foresters for the future.

The RFS Certificate in Forestry complements the existing RFS Certificate in Arboriculture, sharing a number of common modules. More on Royal Forestry Society qualifications here.