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Qualifications 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.

There are a range of different routes into the sector and an even broader range of careers become available as you develop your skills and knowledge with qualifications and experience. Here you will find the different qualifications at Level 2 and Level 3 that will support your development.

Qualifications in forestry and woodland management can be:

  •  Vocational
  •  Academic
  •  Licence to practice
  •  Professional


Vocational qualifications are designed to enable the learner to acquire the knowledge and skills required to be able to perform a particular job. A vocational qualification gives the learner a proof that he or she is adequately trained for a particular workplace, once the qualification has been achieved. There are over 40 land-based and agricultural colleges offering further education vocational courses at Levels 2 and 3 linked to forestry or arboriculture.


There is a wide variety of academic qualifications that can be selected and completed by all those wishing to work in forestry. From GCSE and A-level to Degree, Masters and Doctoral qualifications the academic route through forestry is full of options. Forestry and arboriculture courses are offered by colleges, sixth-forms and universities all across the UK. Universities and colleges increasingly offer flexible ways to study including part-time, day release and distance learning.

Licence to practice

Within the forestry sector a minimum standard was set for those using forestry equipment. The purpose of this was to raise quality standards within the sector and reduce the risk associated with operating forestry equipment. Those that hold licences to practice have met the basic standard set within the sector to carry out a specific task. Licences to practice can be carried out at a numerous assessment centres and are provided by City & Guilds, NPTC and Lantra Awards.


Professional qualifications are typically provided by professional organisations and focus on developing the skills/knowledge you require to work in a specific industry or job. Many professional qualifications follow on from a degree or equivalent qualification. In forestry it is not essential for you to hold such a qualification to be able to work in the sector but many study to achieve a professional qualification simply to achieve a higher level of competence and increased recognition from within the forestry sector.