Group HR Director, Coillte
The forestry sector offers endless exciting opportunities and a diverse range of career options which can make a real difference to the world we live in.
Communities around the world recognise the essential role forestry plays in tackling the climate crisis. Forestry is not just about growing trees. It is the science and business of sustainably managing woodlands and forests to protect and enhance our natural environment, produce sustainable wood products and deliver a range of important public goods benefits.
These include carbon sequestration, environmental protection, recreation and health and wellness. The sector is experiencing high levels of innovation and is leading in the utilisation of new and emerging technologies. It is also one of the few careers offering the opportunity to work both indoors and outdoors — and close to nature.
Growing forestry sector in Ireland
The Government has identified the forest sector as a key enabler of delivering Ireland’s climate action goals and has underpinned this with Ireland’s Forest Strategy 2030 and the largest-ever investment in the sector.
The growth and expansion of Ireland’s forests is essential in delivering the social, economic and environmental responses needed to meet Ireland’s climate, biodiversity, housing and health emergencies. This is an industry which is set to double in size over the next decade which will create a large number of sustainable green jobs in rural-based communities.
Ireland has some of the most modern timber processing and manufacturing plants in Europe.
Career opportunities in forestry
Identifying a career is one of the most difficult choices facing young people, and a good starting point is looking at the school subjects you enjoy. It might surprise you that the subjects of science, business, technology, art and geography all complement further third-level forestry studies. Professional foresters, ecologists, engineers and environmental and technology specialists all play vital roles in modern-day forestry.
Forest contracting in Ireland is a very significant part of the forest industry and is expanding rapidly with many opportunities in the areas of planting, maintenance, harvesting and haulage. Ireland has some of the most modern timber processing and manufacturing plants in Europe, offering a diverse range of career opportunities in all aspects of wood processing and timber technology.
A trend has emerged in recent years, where people are moving to forestry as a more sustainable and rewarding career. The industry is also seeing more contracting business startups and a growing need for forest machine operators and timber hauliers.
Heightened inclusivity in the forestry sector
Although often under-represented, women have long been a significant part of the forestry sector, making important contributions. In recent years, however, there is a growing push to increase gender diversity in forestry.
More women are pursuing careers in the sector and taking on leadership roles in the industry. This trend is helping to create a more inclusive and diverse forestry workforce, that is better equipped to deal with today’s challenges. By embracing the talent and potential of women, the forestry industry can create a more sustainable future for all.
In addition to the rewarding job opportunities, forestry offers a great work-life balance and supportive environment that is conducive to career growth and committed to gender diversity.
Learning and qualifying for the sector
University College Dublin, South East Technological University and Teagasc Ballyhaise offer a range of undergraduate forestry programmes from QQI level 5 to QQI Level 8.
For those wishing to earn and learn, Atlantic Technological University Sligo has introduced a Haulage apprenticeship and Teagasc Ballyhaise has recently launched a Forwarder Operator training programme. For those interested in wood science, timber skills and production management, Technological University Dublin offers a QQI Level 8 Sustainable Timber Technology Course.
As the sector looks to expand, there are several career and learning options to consider according to your needs and goals.