Meet the Graduates

Updated 17th December 2020


Current 2nd year Graduate Trainee, working within the National Operations Team

“I started in 2019 with a Landscape Architecture and Soil Science background. I saw the graduate programme as an ideal way for me to change career to Forestry, which was always a dream as I’m tree obsessed!

I was based in the East District for my first year and began in the Thetford planning office. It was definitely a steep learning curve to understand the basics of how a forest is planned and managed, but after a few months I had already picked up most of what I’ve needed since.  There was a good mix of indoor and outdoor tasks; from forest resilience research and developing a ten-year woodland plan, to checking natural regeneration rates in ancient woodlands and spending time with wildlife rangers understanding deer population management.

After Thetford, I went to assist one of the small rural teams, who were really generous with their time getting me up to speed. This role included carrying out site surveys and supervising contractors that were carrying out ground preparation, tree planting and harvesting works. Halfway through my first year, I joined the Thames Chase team and took on the role of Project Manager for a new woodland creation site. Again, a challenge to get up to speed, but hugely rewarding to be part of such an exciting project.

The biggest challenge I’ve had is learning not to take on too much – there are so many varied and exciting opportunities, but my manager is helping me be selective. Apart from fulfilling my tree obsession, my favourite part of being on the graduate programme so far has been meeting so many different people across the organisation.”


Current 2nd year Graduate Trainee, working within the National Operations Team

“I was extremely excited to be accepted onto the Forestry England Graduate Leadership Program in 2019 with a BA Geography degree and a background working within arboriculture. Although I had a background of working within a similar sector and had a basic knowledge of forestry and tree identification, this is by no means compulsory for applicants to the program; as the objective of the two-year program is to give graduates a broad and diverse experience and understanding of the work Forestry England undertakes, which is far beyond just core Forestry.

Within the first year of the program, I was based in the South England Forest District and based out of the district head office in Lyndhurst, in the heart of the New Forest - arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the country! I started my time within the South getting to grips with a range of different forestry planning tools and processes used by the planning and operational teams. This put me in a good position when it came to more operational forestry roles which I took on later in the program.

As my time within the South district progressed, I moved from the Planning and Environment team, onto the Recreation and Public Affairs team and then finished with the Forestry and Land Management team. Within these departments I worked on numerous projects including supervising operational forestry contracts; project managing the districts’ unauthorised mountain bike trail project; and gaining line management experience at a forest visitor centre - to name just a few.

I have just recently begun my second year of the program, working within the National Operations Team on a wide variety of projects which is giving me exposure to many different areas of the business with a more national and strategic overview. Although I have had to trade my wellies and hard hat for a mic and headset whilst we continue to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of the new role within the national team and the continued learning and development it has brought.”


Graduate Trainee 2018-2020

“I started the Graduate Leadership Programme in July 2018, just after graduating with a BSc (Hons) Geography degree. My degree hadn’t involved any Forestry courses however I was drawn to the Recreation and Environmental areas of Forestry England’s work.

After an exciting first year in the South District – working in the New Forest, Isle of Wight, and Solent area, I joined the National Operations team in Bristol for my second.

Although this meant working a lot more in the office, I was surrounded by senior staff and had ample opportunities for further developing and establishing myself within Forestry England, and manage some large, organisation-wide projects.

These involved lots of travel around the country and I built up a huge network of contacts both internally and externally. I also worked within Forestry England’s Covid-19 response team where I was regularly updating situation reports for DEFRA and our senior leadership team, along with helping in decision making for our organisational response.

The skills I developed and new experiences I gained on the Graduate Programme set me up really well for obtaining my next role in Forestry England. Mentoring, training, and support is available every step of the way. The breadth and quantity of projects and work to get involved in really helps you build a solid understanding of both the organisation and the path you would like to lead onward in your career.”