Three organisations currently provide forestry education and skills training courses in Ireland. These courses are full time, and are aimed at preparing students for a career in the forestry sector.
11.5% of Ireland is under forest, supporting a vibrant and export-oriented forest products sector. The forest industry comprising, growing, harvesting and processing of forest products makes a significant and growing contribution to the Irish economy.
You have options available in Ireland to study forestry at all levels, for one to four years. Start by reading the information provided on the courses in Teagasc, UCD and WIT.
Ciaran Walsh works in the Forestry sector where his job involves administering grant applications for woodland creation schemes, approving felling licence applications, and giving general advice to woodland owners and managers.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
The main career milestones were completion of my degree and the broad ranging grounding and skills it gave me. Being part of the project team to deliver on the new timber auction system that was being implemented as it encompassed so many different teams and work flows and I was the representative for the southern half of the country.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
How did you go about getting your current job?
Describe a typical day?
My typical day varies particularly with the time of the year. I could be assessing an application and liaising with the applicant as to changes or corrections or consulting with a local authority on an application. Site visits to assess potential applications with an applicant are quite common where ground preparation, species selection, protection and selection of options can be advised upon. When claims come in on completion of the works such as fencing, ground preparation, planting etc. the site is usually inspected to ensure the items claimed for are complete and meet the claim and scheme option criteria.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
What are the main challenges?
What's not so cool?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
My current role is different in that I am now in a regulatory position where as up to this point I was in an operational role. This has been of significant benefit as I have a wealth of practical industry knowledge from GIS, spatial planning, harvest schedule planning, timber supply optimisation, re-stock planning, forest inventory, environmental assessment, health & safety assessment and now adding the regulatory and legislative intricacies that go with that.
What is your education to date?
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The analytical and scientific nature of the degree course has proved hugely beneficial as I am quite often dealing with large chunks of data and or written information which require analysis and interpretation. The combination of forestry knowledge allied with the economic and business elements of the degree are vital to making appropriate decisions on forest management and being able to explore all of the options.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Being involved in nationwide internal project to deliver timber to meet the customers’ needs whilst a new auction system was being put in place. Planning the harvest and restock schedule for a large and quite sensitive part of the country and securing felling licences through negotiation and site specific detailed planning for sensitive sites.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
There a number of perks to a career in forestry particularly if you are interested in an outdoors lifestyle and don’t mind bad weather! The work is quite varied and will present different challenges regularly. The possible downside is that at times career progression opportunities can be slow to come around.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
My currently role is quite different and often reliant on others to complete certain parts of work before I could progress my workload which can be frustrating but once you’re aware of it you can plan accordingly. The outdoors element of the role are quite varied as I could be looking at a greenfield site that is potentially being planted, in a mature forest considering a forest plan, inspecting a felling licence or a claimed site. There is a variety to the role which makes it quite appealing.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
Obviously there is quite a bit of health & safety training required given the nature of the industry and you are often working alone in remote locations. Most of my employers so far have provided training courses in different things such as harvest schedule optimisation, GIS and spatial planning tools, timber forecasting, environmental impact assessment, landscape design and forest planning, time management, communications and negotiation courses. In terms of formal education I intend on undertaking a masters in the next 12 to 18 months.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Having worked in the industry beforehand on the operational side was of great benefit before moving into the regulatory work. It meant that I had a good grasp of the legislative element as well as the practical and technical knowledge to be able to offer advice on what would be best with different grant scheme options. Work in the regulatory/compliance environment would clearly be beneficial also, but a mixture of the various sides of the industry is very helpful.