Approaching Forestry: Variety and Responsibility 

Tilhill Graduate Blog by Harry Cooling, Assistant Forest Manager, North and Central England  


My experience so far working in forestry in Northern England can be characterised by two words ‘variety’ and ‘responsibility’!  

No two days working in forestry are the same, issues arise when you least expect and to be pragmatic is a real skill – one that takes some learning.  

Whilst some days are office based, predominantly I spend my time out in the forest. From instructing operations with contractors to assessing the needs of the forest, every day is unique. 

One day I may be working in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales in the shadow of Pen Y Gent, surrounded by sculpted limestone pavements, and the next in the Lake District, engulfed by rugged fells.  

Atmospheric weather over Clitheroe

The differing landscapes we work in obviously require different approaches to forestry – it is a joy to learn the idiosyncrasies of each forest and how they fit in the landscape such as: 


1. A forest in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, known for its large numbers of red squirrels. Our management of this forest is shaped in a large part around accommodating them.  

2. A small area of SPHN Larch which was legally required to be felled as it was diseased by phytophthora ramorum. Being situated in amongst a native woodland, we elected to restock the site with native species to link the woodland with its surrounding environment. The tree shelters will be removed and recycled once the trees are established.


on a cold day. Soon the trees will outgrow their shelters and the plastic will be recycled.

3. An idyllic remote site in the Lake District Valley. The Larch on this site is also infected with  phytophthora and thus needs to be felled. However, doing so in a tourist hotspot and within a steep gorge comes with its difficulties. This all needs to be taken into account when planning work on such a site. 

The responsibility of making sure our work fits within its immediate environment is not lost on anyone in my office. This mindset is very refreshing to see and has been something I have been very impressed with at Tilhill