A CAMPAIGN has been launched to encourage women who work in forestry to tell the world what they do and encourage others to take it up as a career.

The Institute of Chartered Foresters, the professional body for foresters and arboriculturists in the UK, is following up its successful #ILookLikeAForester social media drive from 2018, by encouraging women from around the world to take part using #ILookLikeAForester and @TheICF, as well as #BalanceforBetter, which was the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.

Whatever their role in the sector, whether management and conservation, or science, research and arboriculture, they are being asked to post photos on Twitter of themselves at work with the aim of showing that forestry and arboriculture is for everyone.

ICF’s executive director Shireen Chambers, said: “Women have played an important role in managing trees and forests for decades and we want to celebrate their role and their professionalism. We also want to encourage everyone to see forestry as a career as trees have such an important role in our lives today from the products we use to helping to combat climate change.

“Modern forestry is a high tech sector and is so much more than traditional woodland management. Science is vital now to help us understand how we can look after forests and there is a stronger focus on urban woods and trees in cities. We want more people participating in this dynamic and growing sector and we want them to talk about it, to show everyone what they do and what can be achieved.”

Women intending to take part in this year’s #ILookLikeAForester campaign say that there are a wide range of opportunities. Amelia Williams, an arboricultural officer with Test Valley Borough Council in Andover, and an ICF professional member, thinks it is important that those interested in a career in the sector should realise that many of the skills needed are transferable from other industries.

“Arboriculture chose me. I am more of an outdoors person and when working for the council I was signposted towards the tree officer role. It is great fun and I can share my passion for trees,” she explained.

“We should encourage everyone who wants to join and help pinpoint the opportunities. I’ve not experienced any barriers in my career. It’s about who you meet and who you know, involving yourself in organisations like the ICF helps. Networking is a very powerful and important skill and the ICF helps you to build a network of very knowledgeable and experienced professionals who can support you in your career,” said Amelia.

ICF professional member Sasha Laing, who is regulations and development manager at Forestry Commission Scotland, based in Edinburgh, has turned her hobby into her career. Now she wants to encourage more people from a wide variety of backgrounds to take up forestry as a career and believes that professionalism and being a member of the ICF can help.

“I love the variety and flexibility as no two days are ever the same. I work outdoors and inside, for the public, private and third sectors and in both technical and non-technical fields,” she said. “One day I could be presenting to a community group interested in owning or managing their local woodland, the next working with stakeholders or looking at Local Development Planning. I have been incredibly fortunate to build a career around a hobby,” she added.