Agricultural, Natural, Animal Care

Foresters plan, organise and supervise the planting and harvesting of woodland areas. They are responsible for carrying out an annual programme of work. They control financial affairs, make decisions about planting and pruning trees and the siting of roads and fences. They may be involved with recreation and conservation aspects of their work such as the layout of nature trails and management of deer and other wildlife.

Work Activities

What does a forester do?

Foresters are involved in aspects of conservation and sustainable forestry, landscaping and recreation as well as producing timber for sale. Foresters are responsible for managing activities such as clearing sites, planting young trees, pruning and other tree maintenance, felling trees, spraying insecticides and drainage work. Foresters can be involved at all stages of development, from valuing and buying land through to planting new woodland.

Typical job responsibilities include:

  • Planning, organising and supervising the planting and felling of trees
  • Responsible for carrying out an annual review programme of woodland areas
  • Controlling financial affairs and making decisions about planting and pruning trees
  • Training employees in nursery work, planting, thinning and felling trees
  • Protecting the forest from fires, pests and disease
  • Responsible for health and safety standards to protect other workers
  • Liaising with local authority and countryside groups
  • Being responsible for recreation and conservation aspects of the work such as nature trails and management of wildlife

Foresters spend part of their time in an office and the rest of their time outdoors. The outdoor work can be cold, damp, muddy and sometimes noisy. You will have to travel around the forest estate where you work. Sometimes you may be required to work overtime, perhaps evenings or weekends. This type of work can be very demanding both mentally and physically. You must be safety conscious as there can be a risk of accidents from equipment such as chain saws.

Future career progression may depend on the organisation for which you work and prospects could be improved by further study at postgraduate level. Self-employment as a forestry consultant may be possible. There may also be opportunities overseas, usually on a limited-term contract. Chartered Forester status could be an advantage for career progression. Some foresters specialise in particular areas of work, such as research, planning or technical development.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for foresters

  • Excellent organisation and planning skills
  • Sound technical skills and theoretical knowledge of forests and wildlife
  • An awareness of current health and safety and environmental issues and tree protection laws
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to establish relationships and build rapport with land owners, local authorities and members of the public
  • Excellent written skills to produce reports
  • Sound IT and numerical skills
  • The ability to manage budgets and to produce associated reports
  • Sound negotiating skills
  • A full driving licence
  • An ability to manage people
  • Excellent teamworking skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of Foresters

Examples of major employers of foresters include:

  • The Forestry Commission e.g. in the national Forest Enterprise agencies or forest research
  • Local Authorities
  • Private forestry companies
  • Working for consultants and contractors
  • Working for owners of private sector estates
  • Working in forest research
  • Teaching on a forestry or forestry management course in a college or university
  • Working in technical management of commercial forests and timber firms


Qualifications and training required

Foresters will normally be qualified to degree level although it is possible to study courses at HND and Foundation Degree level. The subject areas are normally forestry, land management, horticulture or environmental science. Entry into a degree course requires a minimum of 5 GCSEs grades 9 – 4 (A*- C) and 2 A levels. An A level in a science subject may be preferred. It is advisable to undertake some practical experience before entering degree courses. In certain instances work experience may be required or mandatory before starting a course. A small number of relevant postgraduate courses are available.

For Scottish students entry to HND college courses tends to require around 2 Highers. Degree courses usually require a minimum of 4 Highers (some courses require two of these to be Maths/science/technological subjects). A number of forestry degrees take entrants with appropriate HND qualifications.

There are also intermediate or advanced level Apprenticeships in Trees and Timber for which you will need a minimum of 5 GCSEs at grade 4 (C) or above, preferably including English and maths.

It is possible for foresters to join the Institute of Chartered Foresters. The first step toward the Chartered Forester status is to join the institute as an associate member.

In order for foresters to carry out practical tasks such as using a chain saw or spraying chemicals it is necessary for them to study and pass City and Guilds Land Based Service awards.

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