Workers at the Englefield Estate in West Berkshire are passing on their skills to the next generation by mentoring a trainee with the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).
Pip Pearson has always loved hands-on work in the outdoors and was one of just five young people given the opportunity to take part in the RFS Forestry Roots Project 2020 which is supported by the ALA Green Charitable Trust. The project aims to provide college and university leavers with a one-year placement in the industry, leading to them gaining RFS certification.
Pip, who has a diploma in practical environmental conservation from the National Open College Network, has been mentored by the Englefield Estate’s team including forestry worker Rob Allen.
Rob said: “Pip is very keen to learn. Working with us has given her the chance to put a lot of her previous training to practical use. We’ve been making sure that she has had an opportunity to take part in the full range of work we do.
“Just recently we’ve been thinning out a 30-year-old woodland on the Estate, making room for broadleaf trees such as chestnut and oak to thrive – they have a high biodiversity value and through active management the woodland can be more resistant to pests and diseases.
“This has also given us a chance to teach Pip more about tree health and we’ve been looking out for the signs of ash dieback, and identifying trees which have been infected. Across the Estate we are also monitoring stands of trees to see if there are any ash trees that are showing resilience to ash dieback, which could help to preserve the species in the UK.
“We’re really enjoying working with Pip. It’s given me an opportunity to pass on my skills, which I’ve found personally very fulfilling.”
Pip said: “I was on an internship in Yorkshire with the Wildlife Trust when I the saw the chance to apply for the Forestry Roots Project and leapt at the chance. I’ve always loved practical work, and working outdoors, so this is just about my ideal job!
“Every day is different. There’s a lot to learn, and I’ve been involved in felling, pruning, brush cutting and planting, which means I’ve been able to use a lot of the equipment I’ve been trained on.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far is that forestry is a complicated industry and the people here are all highly skilled!
“I started here in September and I’ve already recommended forestry as a career to lots of my friends. This is a brilliant experience for me and I’m grateful to the people at the Englefield Estate and the Royal Forestry Society for giving me this opportunity.”
RFS Future Foresters officer Adam Pickles says: “Forestry is an exciting career with a great many different opportunities opening up. We are delighted to have been able to pair Englefield Estate with Pip and to see her develop her knowledge and skills during this year.
“We will be offering Forestry Roots placements again later in the year and hope many will be inspired by Pip’s experiences.”
The Englefield Estate manages around 3,500 acres of woodland under a long-term plan which ensures a sustainable timber crop. Timber from Englefield is used for a wide range of products including flooring, construction and furniture-making, as well as fencing, chipboard and horse-bedding.
The Estate’s woodland is independently certified, and much of it is publicly accessible for walkers and horse riders.