EXPERIENCED communications and engagement professional Maria Bellissimo has joined forest industry body Confor as its new policy officer.

Maria, who will join the Confor team on 6th September, has a strong understanding of the UK’s political and policy-making process – and detailed industry knowledge through her recent work with both BSW Timber and, previously, the Wood Panel Industries Federation.

She has held a number of roles across Westminster and the private sector and understands forestry and wood’s vital role in contributing to the sustainability agenda.

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said: “Maria is a fantastic addition to the Confor team. Her strong background in public affairs and her specific experience working with businesses in the sector mean she can hit the ground running and add real value to our work at a time when forestry and timber have never been more important to society.”

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Maria, who has vast experience of designing and running political and single-issue campaigns, is well-known to a number of the Confor team.

She said: “When I first started supporting businesses in the sector as a public affairs consultant four years ago, my knowledge of the forestry and timber sector was limited. What I have discovered since then is a highly specialised, technologically advanced sector that is key to revitalising a lagging rural economy and an essential component of the systemic change that we as a society need to make to address the climate change crisis.

“I’m excited to be joining Confor, and to have the opportunity to build on my experience. I am very passionate about communicating all the benefits of forestry and wood to key decision-makers and help promote this vital industry.”

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