Explore: Environment

Forest Officer
Forestry Commission

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Michael P

0:00:02 I’m Mike. I work for the Forestry Commission and I am the forester for the Forestry Commission on the Isle of Wight. My day to job a lot of the time is supervising the contractors and checking they’re doing the work that we’ve asked them to do. That can be tree felling operations that are going on or tree planting or installing paths and widening paths. It’s probably 60% out in the woodland, 40% office-based, so it’s a good mix.

00:00:31 I was really lucky. I grew up on the edge of the New Forest so my parents were really interested in the outdoors so they took me out on cycle rides and walks. Every weekend I was in the forest spending as much of my spare time as I could in the trees. So I’ve always had an interest in the outdoors and liked being in the woods. When I left school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career. It seemed quite daunting really so I went through the route of A-levels and photography was a subject that I did at A-level which I was reasonably good at, so I pursued that on to a HND in photography which really was delaying the inevitable of having to go out and get a job. So again, it was something that I just did as a temporary thing really, but throughout a year’s worth of HND in photography I realised that that wasn’t the subject that I wanted to pursue.

00:01:28 I went back to, ‘what do I enjoy in life? Where do I like being?’ and the forest was one of those things. So I just thought well, ‘how can I find a career in forestry?’ And went back to the Forestry Commission website. There was a good link that said ‘How can I get a career in the Forestry Commission?’ That led me through a route to Sparsholt College near Winchester. The course that I studied was a Higher National Diploma in Forestry which is preparing people to be mangers in forests. We went through tree health and biology. There was assignments based on community woodlands. How we could create benefits for the public who may wish to use the woodlands there. So it was a very interesting course, very wide-ranging and it really helped prepare me for a career in forestry.

00:02:21 I’d spend three years training and I was really very keen to get out and start doing some good work, so I was thrilled to be employed by the Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission was always the company that I wanted to work for because I’d had the experience of seeing the work that they did in the New Forest growing up, and I’ve always felt that they were a bit of a leader in terms of forest management in this country. So I was very excited to be employed by the Forestry Commission.

00:02:49 My biggest challenge really has been coming in straight out of college which is not the route that some people have taken in the past. In the past people really had to work their way up from the bottom a bit more than perhaps I did. So the challenge was to prove that I deserved the job that I’d got and was good enough to do it. when I showed that I was committed to working hard and was good at the job that I did, I was really encouraged to look at promotion as a real option, and that’s something I’ve been successful within the last six months.

00:03:24 I’ve got this job on the Isle of Wight. I’m very lucky where I’ve got this area which is really mine to look after and I’d really hope that I can look back and see that I’ve made a real positive impact on the Isle of Wight. I think I can really see myself having a long term career in the Forestry Commission. It’s one of those jobs where, when you join, you feel like you’re needed, you’re valued and that you’re in a job where you can make a real difference.


Michael P is a Forestry Officer. After he realised that a photography course was not what he wanted to do he asked himself “‘what do I enjoy in life? Where do I like being?’ – the forest was one of those things”. He started a Forestry course, and went to work for the Forestry Commission. “I supervise work – felling or tree planting or installing paths and widening paths. It’s probably 60% out in the woodland, 40% office-based, so it’s a good mix”.

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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Employment status

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