Skills for forestry
Commercial forestry will appeal to the Analyst who perhaps, like a farmer, enjoys the outdoor aspect but the industry is heavily reliant on data analysis for the planning and conduct of the forestry operations.
Recreational forestry will appeal to the Supporter who is strong in customer service and can readily identify with the positive contribution forestry can make to people's appreciation of nature and the welfare of animals and birds who need a forest habitat for survival.
By comparison with countries like Sweden, forestry is not a big industry in the UK but it will appeal to those who enjoy working outside as well as in an office.
Trees are either hardwood or softwood. Hardwoods take longer to grow and are more commercially valuable, whilst softwoods like conifers grow more quickly and have an extensive range of use.
Generally we can divide forestry into commercial and amenity according to its individual objectives. Commercial is where trees are planted and cut down to be sold to saw mills for processing. Amenity is where the space is used for recreational purposes such as horse riding, cycle tracks, walking, camping and education tours.
The government is the prime owner of UK forests and operates under the title of the Forestry Commission. Most UK forests are in Scotland with Kielder being the largest, covering an area of 250 square miles.
The commercial management of the Government's portfolio is undertaken by large contractors who harvest and restock. Commercial foresters will know the function and optimum role of the many specialised machines and their applications will depend on access, ground conditions and size of trees. Skidders and forwarders get the trees to a point where they can be stacked and then loaded onto special trailers for their journey to the saw mill.
Forestry is affected by fire, wind, sun, drought and flooding all of which influence the quality and mass of wood a commercial forest will produce. The storms in the UK in 1987 caused havoc and extensive damage to the tree population, felling some irreplaceable species within hours having taken hundreds of years to mature.
Fungicides also cause extensive damage and good management will involve ongoing monitoring for infestation. Many of us will have heard of Dutch Elm Disease but not perhaps Dothistroma septosporum which is a serious disease of conifers.
Managing amenity forests has a very different dynamic to the commercial focus. In this respect you would be managing the public's expectations and any significant changes can involve dealing with pressure groups. Forest rangers will manage the ground operations and many responsibilities such as fencing, deer culling, disease monitoring, replanting and felling can be similar duties as in commercial forests.
Forestry can appeal to those with an interest in ornithology or entomology and organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will take an active interest in ensuring that habitat is conducive to the welfare of particular 'at risk' species.