Stephen graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in forestry and now works for a local council
I chose to study at Aberdeen because it has such an excellent reputation and also because field visits are an important and integral part of the course. Another huge benefit was that the degree is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) and gives exemption from the Part I examinations.
The degree provided an opportunity to study forest ecology and management, alongside fundamental subjects like plant ecology, soil science, biology, chemistry and plant physiology, which gave me a wide academic grounding early on. Later on, we had options to study topics such as silviculture, forest measurement, forest planning, wood science and rural development forestry.
In my current role as an assistant tree officer, I am based in the council's offices, although I spend the majority of my time out and about in the local area. My department is responsible for the management and care of trees owned by the council, for example in parks, country parks, woodlands and recreational spaces, and also at the sides of roads. I report to the tree officer, who has overall responsibility for managing and maintaining the council's trees, and for ensuring that all of the council's statutory services with respect to trees are carried out.
On a day-to-day basis, I am involved in various aspects of tree maintenance, which includes climbing trees and using specialist equipment. I assist with the conducting of surveys, for example to record numbers of trees and their condition, and planning for any new tree preservation orders. I also help to plan, develop and manage tree planting projects, including inspecting any new planting that has taken place.
We use both manual and computerised tree database systems, and I am involved in updating and managing these, along with my colleagues. I also compile reports, work specifications and plans. As my manager often engages external contractors to carry out work on the council's behalf, I sometimes go out to supervise their work and report back on my findings. I also prepare draft reports to provide information for insurance claims relating to trees.
Often, I will need to provide technical support to other council departments, or to give specialist advice to members of the public. This may involve responding to enquiries about dangerous trees, unauthorised work to trees, fallen trees, or trees blocking the light, for example.
I love the varied nature of my job, and being able to work with trees and interact with a wide variety of people. In the future, I hope to study for a relevant postgraduate qualification and to spend some time working abroad.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.