Change is needed to support the next generation of foresters, says RFS

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Featured Slider, Latest, People

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is calling for change to make it easier for the next generation of foresters to enter the sector and qualify.

Speaking at the Country Land and Business Association conference today, Royal Forestry Society chief executive Christopher Williams says: “There is no shortage of young people wanting to work in forestry and woodland management. We know from research and from those applying to join our Forestry Roots programme that many want careers in forestry related jobs.”

Williams went on to express that he and the RFS believe three changes are needed to help “the next generation who will manage the trees we need to battle climate change and to achieve net zero targets,” get into the sector.

A network of colleges providing relevant courses to ensure accessibility, and the inclusion of Woodland management in all land based or agricultural modules to increase awareness and skill set in similar courses.

An increase in options for career changers, Williams suggests recognised job training courses similar to PGCE.

Employers re-assessing requirements for potential recruits, and working to remove the suggested stigma behind hiring young people.

“It remains incredibly difficult for young people to find out about the many exciting jobs there are in forestry. This is especially true for those in urban areas or without families already working in the land-based sector.”

The latest figures show 20,000 people are employed in forestry, with another 13,000 in sawmilling. It is estimated the sector needs to recruit at least 100 people every year until 2030, with new recruits needed in all areas, from planting and harvesting to planning, management and research.

In collaboration with ALA Green Charitable Trust, the RFS offers its Forestry Roots traineeships programme, each post is offered for one year with additional training, This year has seen a record intake of 10 Trainees.