Q&A With Rob Baker Assistant Forest Manager

Tilhill’s North Highland Assistant Forest Manager answers questions about the forestry industry and what led him into it as a career choice.

What encouraged you personally to apply for the Tilhill 2018/19 graduate programme last year? 

I was in the fortunate position of already having a job offer before Tilhill came to visit us at the university, but I was sold after their presentation. It’s no secret that the Tilhill graduate scheme is highly regarded throughout the industry, no other company offers more in terms of early career development, which is absolutely critical for anyone entering the industry. Learning the job alongside the UK’s largest forestry company also gives you access to seemingly limitless resources, be that training, colleagues or equipment; This is something that I couldn’t overlook and I have benefitted from these resources each and every day I’ve been with Tilhill. 


How can the industry encourage even more entries into the sector? 

Keep selling the good news story that forestry professionals are delivering on a daily basis. The more positive visibility the forest industry gains the better. The only way to educate the public is to be more open and engaged which is what we are improving on as an industry. If we can highlight the good work that is being done; the stack of applications will only continue to rise.  
I was fortunate enough to grow up on the doorstep of a woodland and had the opportunity to enjoy them as a playground as soon as I could walk. It is no accident that this early exposure led me down the career path that I have taken – with this in mind I think there is definitely scope for more early years education to increase the uptake in the forestry sector. Certainly, if I hadn’t been interested in forestry from a young age I would not have known about it. Coming from the Midlands where there is little to no forest industry, the subject  wasn’t covered in the classroom.  

I think, if you can interest and educate young minds it really isn’t much of a push to get them to join an industry that has so many opportunities and benefits.  

Tell us a bit more about what led you into a career in forestry…  

I was lucky enough to know about the industry long before I had to think about getting a job as I grew up in and around woodlands and started going to my first forestry shows when I was just eight years old.

Throughout high school it was my intention to go into forestry or an equally outdoorsy role. Unfortunately, Warwickshire is virtually devoid of forestry so I went for the next best thing;  Tree surgery! Having spent five years immensely enjoying the fact that I got paid to climb trees, I reached an ideal point to reignite my dream to get into forestry. This coincided with another aspiration of mine which was to do some further education –this was a little tricky due to a lack of A-levels but the University of Cumbria were very accommodating in this respect.  

What are the benefits of working in forestry? 

I think the main benefit of forestry management is that it’s one of the only professional careers that doesn’t involve being rooted to an office five days a week. You get to enjoy some amazing surroundings as part of your job role and get to set foot in forests that haven’t seen human intervention since they were first planted. Forestry also gives you the opportunity to make positive, large scale changes to the landscape and environment that have an impact now and for generations into the future. This is an immensely satisfying responsibility to have as part of your working life and not something that could be achieved from many other professions.