Careers in forestry and urban forestry

Forestry is the science and practice of managing forests and woodlands and covers everything from planting and managing large coniferous forests to creating and tending small broadleaved and community woodlands, raising young trees in nurseries and felling and delivering timber to wood using industries. Forestry has various objectives, from timber production, amenity, recreation, and conservation.

Forestry professionals work for a great variety of employers: tree nurseries, forest management companies and consultancy firms as well as private estates. Many are self-employed, working, for example, as harvesting contractors, management agents or woodfuel producers. The forestry workforce has traditionally been male-dominated but this is changing, especially in forest management and the charity sector.

Others are employed by national and local governments working in publicly owned woodlands, by research establishments, colleges and universities as well as by non-government agencies and environmental charities. Some work as urban foresters or arboricultural consultants – managing trees in parks, streets and gardens. Forest tourism, social forestry – working with a range of communities – and the emerging global carbon trading sector also offer the prospect of a career in the forestry sector.

Starting wage for a forest worker is usually from around £14,000, estate head foresters may earn in excess of £30,000, social foresters and rangers earn between £23,000 and £28,000, senior consultants and researchers can expect to earn from £30,000. Directors of large forestry and wood product organisations may be paid six-figure salaries.