Fiona stood smiling in an open field during tree planting season

Internships – the stepping stones to future careers

25 July 2023
Heart of England Forest

The Heart of England Forest internship programme provides budding foresters with the skills and experience needed to forge a career within the modern forestry industry, and we are proud to be investing in the foresters of tomorrow.

We are passionate about the need to champion green jobs and encourage people into the forestry sector, to ensure that our vital green spaces grow and are cared for long into the future.

The importance of internships in the forestry sector

There is now a push for new people to join the forestry sector as the shortage of foresters has been recognised on a national level. In 2020, the UK government launched a new Green Jobs Taskforce to support the creation of two million skilled jobs by 2030. Last year a forestry training fund was released which offered people the chance to access short practical forestry courses for free. 

According to Forest Research’s Public Opinion of Forestry 2023: UK and England*, 74% of respondents in the UK and England had visited forests or woodlands in the last few years and 84% of those who had visited woodlands in 2023 agreed or strongly agreed that “a lot more trees should be planted”. 

We are creating a Forest that will be here for life, benefitting the environment, wildlife, and people for hundreds of years, so it is vital that we also invest in creating the foresters of the future to care for it.  

What are the benefits of an internship?

Internships are a fixed term period of work where individuals get the opportunity to gain experience in a particular sector in either a paid, or unpaid position.  

They provide valuable work experience and insight, are a great way to meet like-minded people, and to learn from directly from professionals. 

Traditionally, internships were offered to students and graduates, but many internships now are open to all ages and can be a great way to kickstart a career change. They can also lead to employment opportunities; indeed, 100% of our interns who have applied for jobs with us have achieved permanent roles in the Forest team. 

With regards to forestry, working outdoors also brings mental and physical wellbeing benefits. New Forestry Intern, Zachary, says, “I spent a lot of time outside as a kid and want to continue this. It’s when I’m happiest.” 

This is true for the general public too. According to Forest Research*, 91% of people in the UK and England agreed that forests and woodlands they have visited are important to them personally because they provide a space to relax and de-stress. 

Why choose an internship with the Heart of England Forest? 

Unlike a lot of other organisations, we pride ourselves in offering year-long, Real Living Wage paid internship positions, and have proudly supported 31 interns since 2017 across all areas of the charity’s work, including three new forestry interns – Lauren, Zachary and Fletcher - who joined us in June.  

We encourage passionate people that want to make a difference. Here’s what our new Forestry Intern Lauren has to say. 

“This work aligns with everything I’m interested in; it’s making a change that’s really rewarding. Someone needs to care and do something to help mitigate climate change that’s affecting the new generation.” 

Lauren applied for the internship because she always wanted a job in conservation and was excited about this role because the Forest ‘seemed to be the only organisation to offer the opportunity to gain the qualifications she needed to progress in her career.’ Gaining qualifications in practical forestry tasks such as chain sawing, brush-cutting and tractor driving, can be difficult to obtain without the opportunity of an internship, due to the time and costs involved.  

“The thing I like most about working for the Heart of England Forest is the people that work here. It’s fun to be at work and the learning feels really natural.”
– Zachary, Forestry Intern
Zachary stood smiling in front of a lime tree

Fletcher talks about job satisfaction now that he has started his internship:

“In my previous job, I’d find that I’d work really hard and keep chipping away at tasks but wasn’t able to see a difference. Now I’m at the Heart of England Forest, I can look back on my work every day and see the difference I’ve made.”
- Fletcher, Forestry Intern
Fletcher stood in a field smiling and looking to his right in to the distance

What does the future look like for our new interns?

Zachary hopes to build a career in land management that benefits and protects the UK environment, and Lauren wants to work with scientific research on a global level and contribute towards conservation, helping to mitigate climate change.

Fletcher hopes to stay within the charity and in forestry specifically, as growing a forest is what is most important to him. He offers some words of advice for future foresters wanting to start their careers; “Persevere! It’s competitive but keep going. I can’t stress enough how important volunteering is.”

Interested in a career in conservation?

To hear from members of our team about their routes into their careers in conservation and get top tips for working in the environmental sector on our careers, visit our careers in conservation web page (Careers in conservation | Heart of England Forest) or watch our latest careers in conservation recorded event below.

As the Forest grows, so too does our team. If you share our passion and enthusiasm, then keep an eye on our jobs and careers page for current vacancies.