Our Vital Forest Resource

by Assistant Forest Manager, Rob Coltman, Southern England

A few months ago, I entered the Confor ‘Future of Forestry’ writing competition. The discussion question was “How can forestry and wood processing help deliver a Green Brexit and a more sustainable society in the UK?” I recently re-read the piece I submitted and remembered the struggle of trying to thin down the range of points I’d have liked to discuss within the word limit. Ultimately, the cut and thrust of my ramblings were that in my opinion, targeted and well-practiced forestry can have wide ranging benefits for the natural environment, and that the industry can play a major role in creating a greener United Kingdom.

Reflecting on this led me to remember something I had read in a recent RFS Quarterly Journal of Forestry in a Q & A with veteran forester, Jim Barraclough. When asked what advice he would give someone starting out in their career in forestry, he answered: “Focus on high quality silviculture”. I personally believe that high quality silviculture should consider sustainability on both a site-specific basis and in the wider context of the national and global environment.

In forest management, you have the chance to make significant decisions about how the natural environment is utilised. This provides opportunity to make positive choices for the environmental productivity and sustainability of our landscape. I love this about my role. I feel privileged to be able to play a part in the responsible management of our vital forest resource – for the benefit of current and future generations.  

Right now, this is the beginning of my career and I am relishing the chance to hoover up any silvicultural knowledge I can. Tilhill Forestry is a great place to absorb the wisdom of others due to the diversity of experience across the workforce and the emphasis on knowledge sharing throughout the company. Forestry is a huge subject and can seem more than a little daunting at times. However, another of Jim Barraclough’s Q & A answers helped allay my fears a little: whilst attempting to undertake high quality silviculture, one must: “Remember that you will never know more than a tiny fraction of everything there is to know about the management of forests.” A fair point, I think. This said however, I’m certainly going to give it my best shot!