The Forestry Commission has announced it will reopen its Woodland Officer programme in 2023 to foster a growing, highly skilled and diverse workforce within the forestry sector.

The Development Woodland Officer programme offers a three-year, paid development opportunity for passionate individuals from all backgrounds looking to kickstart their careers in forestry.

It aims to grow and upskill the forestry sector workforce and is open to school leavers, graduates or anyone looking for a change in career direction.

Upon completion of the programme, successful graduates will earn a Professional Forester Apprenticeship (equivalent to Level 6), a BSc (Hons) in Forest Management.

Forestry Commission chief executive, Richard Stanford said:

“The Development Woodland Officer programme is an exciting career pathway into forestry in general and the Forestry Commission in particular.

“The programme offers a wide range of forestry and silvicultural experiences to build knowledge across the entire forestry sector.

“I have seen first-hand the success of this programme, our current students are thriving though a unique mix of hands-on experience and academic studies as well as being in paid employment.

“I encourage people from all backgrounds and abilities interested in a rewarding career in forestry to apply.”

Gareth Biggins, Development Woodland Officer apprentice said:

“I joined the DWO programme in 2022, having worked in the rail industry for 15 years.

“I wanted to make a career change into forestry for some time and the programme offers a great way to achieve this while working to protect and expand our woodlands.

“Since joining I have acquired new skills, knowledge and experience and have enjoyed the opportunity to work towards a degree level qualification alongside on the job training and interaction with colleagues from across the forestry sector.”