THE Institute of Chartered Foresters has issued a paper to ministers across the UK addressing the skills shortage in the forestry industry, which threatens the sector’s ability to meet climate change and biodiversity targets.

Describing the situation as “the most pressing issue of our time – perhaps even in the institute’s 100-year history”, the ICF estimates that in order to deliver on its commitments, the sector will need to fill around 10,000 extra jobs over the next few years.

It is calling on governments, the private sector, the third sector and public bodies to support:

• funding of a new forestry training hub to foster higher education connections, employer networks, links between academia and business, good practice and online learning, and to act as a resource for businesses to engage with apprenticeships;

• a national recruitment campaign about working with trees to encourage more young people and career-changers into training for careers that tackle the climate crisis;

• the delivery of a leadership training programme to ensure strong, long-term, inspirational leadership for delivering on the climate change agenda.

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ICF vice president Geraint Richards said: “The role trees will play in combating the dual climate and nature crises cannot be overstated. There are many ambitious targets to meet, but we cannot achieve these without significantly expanding, upskilling and diversifying the forestry workforce. If urgent action is not taken and the skills crisis left unaddressed, consequences will be dire. As a sector, we need to grasp the opportunity to play our part in the green recovery. 

“From political, economic and social perspectives, our sector faces more scrutiny now than perhaps ever before. It is imperative our trees and woodlands are professionally managed, so we can successfully deliver on the myriad beneficial outcomes they can provide society.

“Governments, public and private organisations, third-sector bodies, education providers and allied professions must all rise to meet this challenge – it is our responsibility to deliver a robust forestry workforce that can professionally deliver for climate, nature, people and the economy.”

The paper is now being shared widely throughout the sector and is published at