Forestry interns (left to right) – Jamie, Jake and James

In 2017 we welcomed three new members of staff, Jake, James and Jamie, who joined us on our new 12-month forestry internship programme. They’ve been working closely with us, as part of the forestry team, learning all aspects of the job, from tree planting at our land in Sheriffs Lench to hazel coppicing in Alne Wood to create more habitat for dormice and bluebells. Along with our friendly volunteers, the forestry interns have learnt about butterflies, ready to conduct wildlife transects in the Forest. You may have met them on one of our guided walks which they help run.

Since joining the Heart of England Forest, the interns have been encouraged to learn new skills and gain professional qualifications in chainsaw use, tractor driving, woodchippers, ATV driving and the use of the GIS mapping system. James said, “The charity has given me the opportunity to develop my practical experience and knowledge in forestry, in a professional and supportive environment”. Jamie also commented, “The internship with the Heart of England Forest has given me the chance to experience what is involved in creating and maintaining woodland. Interacting with the public and helping volunteers has been challenging and enjoyable. The practical skills and knowledge gained will be very useful for a career in the forestry sector”.

Whilst on their internship, the interns have started some exciting new projects within the Forest. Jake is designing and creating a waymarked route extension at Haydon Way. He commented, “The forestry internship has been a great way to spend my year in industry, and I can take all the skills and knowledge I have gained back to university and apply them to the course to help me complete the final year”. James is locating black poplar trees across the Forest and using GIS to map them, and Jamie is helping to set up equipment with Coventry University to see how the creation of the Forest is contributing to flood reduction on the River Arrow. The forestry interns have shown real enthusiasm, commitment and a desire to learn.

The forestry intern programme has proved to be an enormous success, and in addition, we now plan to recruit a forestry apprentice to support young people in the local area. We have also been approached by The Royal Forestry Society to host an intern for them. Here the focus will be on recruiting someone at the end of their forestry further education studies whilst our internship focusses on higher education. We really are establishing the Heart of England Forest as a Centre of Excellence for Forestry!