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Welsh youngsters get to work on woodland creation sites

27 Feb 2024 4 minute read
Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme training session with chainsaws at SRUC

Four Welsh youngsters have successfully completed a coveted forestry skills training programme enabling them to set out on roles in the industry.

The UK is currently experiencing a critical forestry skills shortage as it strives to meet tree planting targets to combat climate change and meet the increasing demand for homegrown timber.

In 2023, approximately 80% of all timber used in the UK was imported, making the country the third-largest global timber importer – highlighting a clear need to upskill and expand the forestry contractor workforce.

Rural employment

Launched in 2022, ‘Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme’ aims to help young people in rural Wales to gain employment opportunities in forestry by providing training, health and safety equipment and mentoring.

Due to its success, the programme was extended into Scotland for the following year’s candidate intake, in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Over 70 applicants applied for the latest programme and the 10 selected candidates have now completed their fully funded training at Coleg Cambria, Llysfasi and at SRUC Barony campus, Dumfries, securing important qualifications in chainsaw operating, tractor driving, tree planting and much more.

Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme Wales Candidates working on a Tilhill managed woodland site

The trainees, Ynyr Roberts, Brychan Edwards, Rhys Ap Gwyndaf, and Bedwyr Roberts from Wales, as well as Anna French, James Findlay, Sean Hain, Connor Glover, Jock Munro, and Francesca Roberts from Scotland, come from diverse backgrounds across their respective regions.

Tilhill has now employed the Wales candidates as contractors to carry out planting works in its woodland creation sites.

High demand

Richard Kelly, Co-Lead of Foresight Sustainable Forestry Company, said:  “Congratulations to the Wales and Scotland trainees for successfully completing the second iteration of the Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme.

“They have shown remarkable dedication and commitment to acquiring the essential skills needed for an exciting career in forestry. These individuals’ newly acquired skills will no doubt be in high demand, in an industry where there is a national skilled workforce shortage. These individuals represent the fresh and diverse talent that the nation’s woodlands need.

“The candidates now have an opportunity to play a major role within their local environment and their communities, nurturing woodlands that will directly contribute to the UK’s Net Zero and biodiversity targets. The success of this year’s programme highlights the value of investing in the next generation of forestry professionals, empowering local communities to contribute to the twin fights against climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Home grown timber

David Edwards, Tilhill’s Forestry Director said: “It brings great pleasure to be able to welcome ten newly qualified people into the forest industry in Scotland and Wales as a result the fully funded Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme.

“Tilhill is very proud to have partnered with both SRUC in Barony and Coleg Cambria Llysfasi to deliver this programme which has truly upskilled these candidates in a variety of forestry related activities ensuring a strong foundation for their future careers within the forest industry.

“The candidates will have a great future ahead of them and we will see many of them across our managed woodland sites. The next step is for some of the trainees to receive mentoring from Tilhill Forest Managers, people with experience across full timber crop rotations including tree planting, woodland management and the harvesting and restocking of the best quality trees for home grown timber to supply local markets.

“This is especially important as the UK seeks to replace carbon-emitting steel and concrete in construction with home grown timber from sustainably managed forests.”


Andy White, Lead Forestry Lecturer at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, said: “The Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme is a fantastic opportunity for young people looking for a start in the forestry industry.

“This year’s successful students have been lucky enough to receive training and qualifications in a wide range of practical forestry skills including tree felling and chainsaw use, first aid, strimmer, brushcutter and clearing saw use, tractor driving and operation, and pesticide application.

“New blood is in short supply within forestry, so this program is particularly welcome by encouraging new entrants, and providing the basics they need to get started.

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Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 month ago

Woodland creation? Shh! Don’t tell the farmers!

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