International Policy Team
Forestry Commission Scotland

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Jonathan T

00:00:03 I’m Jonathan T, and I work in the International Forest Policy Team in Silverhouse in the Forestry Commission. Well the International Policy Team works with other Government Departments to represent the UK overseas in places like Brussels, for the European Union. We discuss and negotiate policies that impact on forests.

00:00:33 What did I dream about being? Probably my first recollection would be of being a cowboy. That’s because I remember seeing my sisters going horse riding, so I think that was a fairly early influence. But I very quickly sort of got interested in – in the countryside. And I remember at that stage really not thinking exactly what job I wanted to do, I just wanted to work outdoors. Well after I left school, I went to an Agricultural College where I started doing a few courses in Land Management. And they had various sort of tasters of agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

00:01:15 And from that I kind of realised that my interests really were in forestry. And it kind of – it gave me a good grounding in sort of the practical aspects of forestry, what the operations were – felling trees, driving machines and so on. And I decided that I probably wanted to go into something a little bit more managerial or policy oriented and get – so for that I needed to go to University. I went up to Aberdeen and studied forestry there.

00:01:42 When I joined the Forestry Commission I started as a Forest Officer, and that was very much operationally based, so I was in charge of an area of forest. And it was really focused on getting sort of the day to day work done in the forest farm, felling trees, planting, looking after the mountain bike trails that we had, working with local communities on projects. I did those jobs for about four or five years, and then moved up to Edinburgh into the International Policy Team. And for that I’m probably based in the office in Edinburgh for about fifty percent of the time, and then for a large proportion of the rest of the time I’m out travelling in either – in meeting with other Government Departments, mainly down in London, or overseas.

00:02:35 A lot of people think the travel is a jolly, and it’s a nice thing to do and you go and visit these countries. The reality is we try and keep all the travel to a minimum, and that’s for a number of reasons. Firstly is climate change, we don’t travel unnecessarily. And it’s also very expensive. Saying that, with my job, I’ve got to go to some great locations that I never would have thought I would of when I joined the Forestry Commission. Last year I got to go to China, and I got to hold a panda, and I never thought that when I joined the Forestry Commission I would be sat in Northern China holding a panda.

00:03:18 I’ll start with the worst aspects of the job. That can often be dealing with policy that can seem so far removed from the day to day world, and you think what on earth is this achieving? And it seems to be moving forward so slowly, and it’s just about endless pages of words that don’t actually help anyone. Similarly, the best side is when you see actually the benefit that all those policies have, and how they then impact on people, and really try to make a difference to people’s lives and to management of forests, not just in the UK but all round the world.

00:03:58 ENDS


Jonathan T works in the International Forest Policy Team at the Forestry Commission. “Last year I got to go to China, and I got to hold a panda”. He says the best side of his work is “when you see actually the benefit that all those policies have, and how they then impact on people, and really try to make a difference to people’s lives and to management of forests”.

More information about Forestry workers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

100%  male 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Forestry workers perform a variety of tasks related to the planting, cultivation and protection of trees.
There are no minimum academic entry requirements. Training is typically received on-the-job, supplemented by short courses covering specialised skills. NVQs/SVQs in Forestry are available at Levels 1 and 2, together with BTEC diplomas and apprenticeships in some areas.
  • Prepares ground for planting by clearing vegetation and other debris;
  • Drains and ploughs land and erects and maintains fences as necessary;
  • Collects seeds, plants and prunes trees and selects and marks trees for felling;
  • Fells trees using axe or power saw and saws wood into required lengths;
  • Cuts coppice, removes tops of standing trees and lops branches as necessary;
  • Assists in the control of harmful diseases, pests or forms of wildlife;
  • Builds and maintains forest roads;
  • Maintains watch for fires and operates fire fighting equipment.
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