Harvesting The Future

 A blog by Shaun Holt, Harvesting Contract Manager, Tilhill Forestry

I have been asked to write a blog.  Select your own subject they said! But what? I had a think. What subject do you cover when you are out all day just doing your job? Well, there has been a lot of talk lately about climate change and how woodland creation is one tool in the toolbox to help reduce carbon. This is an interesting subject but it has been spoken about by people a lot more qualified than myself. I won’t therefore bring my thoughts to this particular subject but it has given me an idea. I think I will write about ‘The Future’.

But first, who am I? A brief history of me then.  I am a Harvesting Contracts Manager for Tilhill Forestry covering harvesting sites in and around North and Mid-Wales. I am not from a graduate background but have worked my way up through the ranks so to speak. I started life as a chainsaw operator and have progressed steadily over the years to where I am now.

To ‘The Future’ then…

Something that I have noticed on my daily travels throughout the sites that I cover is that the average age of many of our contractors in and around North Wales is towards the older end of the scale. There does not seem to be the youth coming through and joining the contractor network. This is actually quite concerning.

Tilhill Forestry is now in partnership with a local Welsh agricultural college, Llysfasi launching the Level 3 Tilhill Diploma in Forestry and Woodland management (2 years). Together we are pushing to create the woodland workers of tomorrow through education and industry experience. The national apprenticeship scheme at Llysfasi is a good place to start your forestry career. After all, I started mine there in the early nineties.

The experience I gained firstly at LLysfasi College and then Newton Rigg was invaluable to me. The variety of activities available in forestry was, and still is, vast ranging from chainsaw operations in the Lake District, Ireland and North Wales to planting in the Scottish Borders. From college I then moved around working for a local forestry machinery dealer. It was then onto arboricultural works and utilities within Tilhill Forestry before starting as a chainsaw operator in 2004 and I have quietly progressed through the ranks to my current role of Harvesting Contracts Manager.

So, if you have a relation or a friend, young student or old, why not give a career in forestry a try? It can undoubtedly be hard work but also, I believe and know, that there are rewards for the taking in a varied and ever growing industry.