Pauline French is a forestry works supervisor for the Forestry Commission.
Can you describe your role?
My main role is to organise and supervise work in the forest district, including tree felling, planting and fence repairs. I work closely with the forester and other people in the district team. I help to plan the day-to-day work programme for the field staff that carry out the work on the ground and I oversee the contractors that work for us.
What is a typical week?
I visit all the work sites and make sure there aren't any problems. If there are, I try to sort them out. If, for example, a tree has blown down onto a track or fence, I organise field staff to cut it and make it safe. I also look at future work sites, producing maps and other documents on the computer for the field staff and contractors to use. Sometimes I go out and measure timber or see if there is damage to recently planted trees.
What else might a forester do?
The role of forester is a diverse one, so it might include tasks such as scheduling conservation or recreation work, preparing the sale of timber and Christmas trees, and planning long-term forest management.
Do you spend much time in the forest?
I spend about two thirds of my time in the forest, for example supervising field staff and contractors, and completing surveys. The rest of the time, I work in the office, which includes attending meetings. In a way, I'm the link between the forester and the field staff.
What hours do you work?
I work 37 hours a week Monday to Friday, from 7.30am until 4pm (12.30pm on Fridays).
Who else do you work with?
In our forest district team, we have recreation rangers who mainly deal with the public, and wildlife rangers/keepers, who are responsible for the wildlife and environment in the forest. I also meet representatives from other organisations or the public when planning work.
What tools and equipment do you use?
I use a measuring tape to measure trees, a relascope (a tool to measure tree density in a forest), a hammer and nails to put up information and safety signs for the public, and spray paint to mark trees for harvesting. I also drive a van to get to sites within the forest.
Why did you choose forestry?
I've always wanted to work outdoors, and I love trees. Working for the Forestry commission allows me to do for a living what I have always aimed for.
What training courses have you been on?
Apart from various trainee placements, I've been given training by the Forestry Commission, which has included courses in tree planning, managing safety at work and computer mapping systems.
What are your main challenges?
Maintaining the balance between all the different demands on the forest, such as timber production, recreation and conservation, is not always easy. Also, there are many people involved in managing a forest, and it can be a challenge to work with all those different people to achieve the best for the woodland.
What are your career plans?
I still have a lot to learn in the job I'm doing at the moment, but, sometime in the future, I'd like to work in other forests around the world.
Pauline's route to becoming a forest worker
- Vocational forestry qualification in Finland.
- Degree in Forest Management.
- Get a Degree in Forestry.
- If you want to be a forestry works supervisor, it's helpful if you have an idea of what's involved, so get as much 'hands on' work experience in a forest as you can.
- Don't be afraid to work with different people or go to other countries, and to open to learning new things. A wide knowledge of forests and people is beneficial.
Forest worker related jobs
- Countryside ranger/warden
- Countryside/conservation officer
- Landscape manager
- Parks officer
Salary of a forest worker
- A new forest officer employed by the Forestry Commission usually earns £21,792.
- An experienced forest officer earns around £25,000.
- A senior forest officer earns £28,385.
- Salaries in the private sector vary widely.
Becoming a forest worker
- Entry as a forest officer is usually with either a Foundation degree, HND or degree in forestry.
- For some courses it is either essential or desirable to have had some relevant work experience.
- Some qualified and experienced forest workers may be successful in seeking promotion to forest officer posts.
- On starting work, forest officers are usually trained by their employer.
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