What do you do? I work in Forestry.

Hi, my name is Dan Wilson and I’m an Assistant Forest Manager working for Tilhill Forestry in their Central Borders office. This is my second blog for following ‘Forestry? As a Career?’

I think most of my colleagues can remember having some close variation on the following conversation:

“So, what d’you do for a living?”

“I work in Forestry,”

“Ah cool, chopping down trees with chainsaws and that?”

“…well not exactly.”

This conversation is a mark of how much awareness we need to drum up that forestry is often viewed as donning your plaid shirt, protective boots and sauntering out into the woods with an axe. We’re not just splitting firewood here however, there are sawmills to keep running!

Tilhill Forestry is appointed by a client to achieve a certain standard of forest. Depending on client objectives this could be to establish a native broadleaf scheme with the intention to create a community woodland or a multi-aged productive conifer crop which can be felled in increments for timber production. Because of these diverse aims, working in forest management demands an equally diverse range of roles, reflected nicely in my timesheet summary.


Checking a restock site for weevil damage, leader growth and hand weeding requirements. Pine weevils or Hylobius Abietis can have serious detrimental effects on a young crop, they descend in a plague and chew the bark from young trees causing stunted growth, deformities and high mortality rates.



Checking of ground preparation on a private estate for new planting. The ground on this site is particularly good lending itself to superb results from the continuous enviro mounder. This method of ground preparation is low impact and provides an elevated, weed free planting position for young trees to grow on.


Timber extraction. Pictured is a particularly steep harvesting site, with the forwarder being assisted by an excavator mounted winch system. This affords the operator greater manoeuvrability on challenging gradients. In this case the digger plunges a spike into the ground on which the winch is mounted which the forwarder operator has full control of from his cab. The operator picks up logs on his way down the slope with the added security of the winch.



Snails! A slightly more unusual day. When checking broadleaves in protective shelters on a landscaping job I found an unprecedented amount of damage caused by snails. They were particularly large after a good feed on trees planted earlier in the year. We were unsure as to the reason for this but theorised that there was a possibility of there being eggs in the top soil which the client had laid. As it is not a common issue we are currently exploring options with the client to try to get the trees past the point of being at risk from the pests. 



Finally, as a part of our duty of care and commitment to clients, Tilhill Forestry carry out yearly inspections of infrastructure within managed forests. In one of our larger forest complexes there are two fords, two large culverts, an Irish bridge and a large bridge to inspect.

With large quantities of timber being moved around they can degrade quickly so to ensure safety abutments, retaining walls, pipe arches and erosion of concrete and the rivers both up and downstream of all infrastructure must be monitored.

As you can see, a career in forestry brings with it a varied life, not just from week to week but from day to day too. No chance of getting bored as we can’t let the weevils and snails get the upper hand!