Work Shadowing with Tilhill Forestry

Work shadowing by Megan, currently studying a Natural Sciences Degree at St Andrew’s.

My work experience week with Tilhill Forestry was extremely varied and ranged from getting to see and experience a wide range of what goes on in the Company, in the office and out on site from both an ecological and business point of view.

I had the opportunity to see forestry at many different stages of the cycle from a new possible site for planting to sites in the process of being felled. Forestry companies often have a bad reputation for planting trees where people don’t want them and then felling trees that they want to keep. Seeing all the stages of the cycle demonstrated to me the planning and care that goes into managing forests and how it is critical to balance the conflicts between making money, fulfilling clients’ aspirations for the site, the local view points and concerns whilst trying to preserve and increase biodiversity.

Visiting sites with clients showed the importance of client relationships with their forest manager. One of the sites demonstrated how forestry and farming, often seen as two competing uses for limited areas of land, can work together successfully. Seeing an audit of a forest showed me how much is taken into account and monitored during felling from an ecological point of view. 

Before spending time at Tilhill Forestry I had carried out a project comparing the soil quality and biodiversity within a native woodland with an area of commercially forested Sitka Spruce. My conclusions from this were that commercial forestry could have a negative impact on soil, environment and biodiversity but I was interested to learn about how these could be overcome and managed as forestry is so important and an area I thought would be interesting to work in.

During the week I learnt that commercial forestry has many positive impacts on land management and protecting the environment and biodiversity. There is so much more to forestry than I had originally thought, including a huge amount of work behind the scenes considering and planning for all the aspects that must be taken into account when managing forests. Forestry is a sustainable industry and use of land that will be increasingly important in the future combat of climate change.

As a result of my week I am keen to continue learning about the management of forests and I am hoping to be involved in a tree coring and site ecological survey next week through my university.

I am very grateful to all the staff of the Tilhill Forestry team who allowed me to shadow them and share their knowledge and experience with me. It was a very valuable week.