Case study

Forest manager — Sam Huddleston

Discover what steps Sam took to prepare himself for a career in forestry management

How did you get your forestry job?

After graduating with a degree in forestry from Bangor University, I was lucky enough to be offered a trainee forester job with Forestry England. While spending two years in the North England Forest District, I gained experience in a number of core forestry areas. Including, forest management; forest planning; harvesting and marketing and civil engineering. I was able to utilise this experience to help me get my current role working as a forest manager at DGA Forestry LLP.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My forestry degree was instrumental in reaching my current position. I knew very little about forestry when I began my studies. During university, I learned vital information about forest ecosystems, silviculture and management practice.

Lectures were always backed up with field visits and industry conferences. After three years of study at Bangor and a years' placement in industry, I was well equipped to tackle working in UK forestry.

What are your main work activities?

As a forest manager, I'm responsible for all aspects of work involved in the day-to-day running of properties throughout Scotland, England and Wales. I find my time is split equally between office-based work and time spent out in the forest. One day, I can be in the office creating forest plans using GIS. The next, I can be walking through some of the remotest places in the country, carrying out survey work or managing forestry operations.

A good thing about the job is that I'm able to manage my own time and take responsibility for the completion of forestry work programs.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My role has developed quickly with experience. My ambition is to continue in my current role and become a highly proficient and respected manager. Eventually, I would love to be a self-employed forestry agent.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The best part of my job is being able to visit some amazing places in the UK and spend lots of time outside. It's a good feeling to be able to see your work taking shape in the landscape.

I also enjoy being a professional member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and attending forestry events. The industry is constantly evolving and it's exciting to be a part of.

What are the challenges?

I cover a large geographical area in my role and so one of the most challenging aspects is logistics and people management. Not being able to be in all places at once, means that good communication and planning skills are essential.

Weather and terrain can certainly be a challenge. A good level of fitness and some good waterproofs are certainly helpful. Midge spray in Scotland is definitely a must have too.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into forestry management?

Try to get as much practical experience as possible during your studies. My placement year helped put the theory into practice and enabled me to hit the ground running after university.

Join a professional forestry group such as the ICF. The organised events, conferences and study tours are a great way to gain knowledge about industry issues and innovations.

Also, try to network as much as possible with people in the industry. UK forestry is comparatively small and having some good connections can really help keep you in the know, with regards to jobs and sharing of knowledge and opportunities. In my experience, most foresters are a friendly like-minded bunch who are willing to help when asked.

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