Print page print this page

Forestry Skills Study – your chance to contribute


 Share this page on

About the Author


Martin Glynn Crop

Martin Glynn is a Chartered Forester based in North Yorkshire. A graduate of Bangor, his career has taken him from reclaiming colliery spoil tips in the East Midlands to focussing on forest industry development projects across the UK.

He recently represented the ICF at the EFRA Forestry in England Inquiry and following last year’s referendum prepared a paper for Confor on the impact of Brexit on the forestry sector. In addition to the Forestry Skills Study, Martin is currently working on projects to develop plant health training, preparing woodland management plans for a local authority client and supporting a number of forestry businesses to acquire funding for investment in equipment.

One of the few things that most people in the forestry sector can hopefully agree on is that we need a skilled workforce if we are to plant and manage our woodlands well. Whether it is marking a crop for thinning, operating a mechanised harvester or designing a new woodland with GIS, without the requisite skills the task is unlikely to be completed well - ‘The right tree in the right place’ doesn’t happen by accident.

If there was one thing that you would like to see done to improve the skills of the workforce, what would it be?

forestry skills harvesting   forestry skills arb
 forestry skills marketing  forestry skills on the ground
















The RFS has always been at the forefront of advancing skills and knowledge ever since its formation in 1882 – the ‘Fundamental Laws’ of the founder members stated that it should be. So it is appropriate that the Society should be leading a new piece of work, the Forestry Skills Study, on behalf of the Forestry Skills Forum. The Forum is a group of industry and academic organisations that have come together to promote the cause and identify actions that need be taken as the sector adapts to the needs of a modern forest industry in England and Wales. The Study is being prepared by RDI Associates, in conjunction with Cumbria Woodlands and Timber Strategies, and will review the current provision of skills, the needs of employers and woodland owners, and how people are recruited to the profession and work their way through it.

The final report will be published later this year, but initial discussions with forest managers and agents have identified a number of issues which seem to be common across the sector. They include the need for more and better able machine operators, who can manage the wide ranging demands of a harvesting site as well as operate increasingly complex machines, for college graduates who can recognise and respond to the needs of clients and others who have an interest in their woodlands, and to attract capable and enthusiastic young people to undertake forestry through Further and Higher education and thus provide the managers and leaders of the future. Geography plays a part of course, as managing an upland conifer forest in Wales or the north of England requires different knowledge and skills to those required on a mixed estate in the Home Counties. In addition there is the need to keep up to date with emerging plant health threats, new technology in the field and the office, and the ever changing demands of legislation and standards.

The report will also make recommendations to support the development of an Action Plan that will address the needs of the industry in future years, with the intention that this is adopted by organisations across the sector who will work together to implement the actions identified.

This is where we need your help. Do you agree that skills need continual improvement across the sector, or are we alright as we are? And if there was one thing that you would like to see done to improve the skills of the workforce, what would it be? It might be something very specific such as improved knowledge of broadleaf silviculture, or the benefits of targeting people from outside the industry to take up forestry as a mid life career change and bring with them the benefits of ‘life experience’. Could Apprenticeships be the way forward, bringing in a new cohort of technically skilled workers who can progress through the industry, taking on more responsibility if and when they want to and are capable of doing so?

Please do let us know what you think. The report and ensuing Action Plan will only be relevant if it is informed by the knowledge of those of you at the forefront of the industry – the people designing, planting and managing our woodlands across England and Wales. However brief or extensive, you can send your comments to me at Any comments you do make will kept confidential and you won’t be quoted unless we ask you if we can.