Neil Stoddart MICFor, Natural Resources Wales
As a Regional Land Manager at Natural Resources Wales, the new single environmental sponsored body to the Welsh Government since 2013, I am responsible for the sustainable forest and land management and UKWAS compliance within the Welsh Government Woodland Estate across South West Wales. This includes management of the National Nature Reserves, a geographic area of 35000 hectares. In summary, my role ensures the safeguarding of forest asset management on behalf of my principle client – the Welsh Government. My day-to-day job involves working with a team of professional foresters and nature conservation managers to programme, plan and implement forest plans, landscape design and much more. Through my achievement of Professional Member status of the ICF, my professional integrity and knowledge, and expertise of forest management has been qualified.
Professional credibility is never more important than when working with the general public. Recently I have been involved with the provision and management of a visitor centre in the Brecon Beacons National Park, mountain bike trails, community woodlands and a new local community school woodland in Cwm Rhaiadr forest in Carmarthenshire. The management of social forestry schemes and recreation programmes like these command increasing interest from stakeholders and communities alike, putting professional credentials under a public spotlight. Chartered status from the Institute of Chartered Foresters is an important way to demonstrate these and back up my professional advice.
Becoming a member of ICF has also aided my own continued professional development, providing me a platform to maintain and increase my knowledge and skills, in an ever-changing forest industry. For example, renewable energy is a new portfolio of activity across the public forest estate, and facilitating the development of wind energy schemes, wood fuel and hydro schemes across the estate are numerous and increasing.
With the recent change of client to the forest estate in Wales, the clients brief, in terms of the Welsh Governments Woodlands for Wales Strategy of 2009, has changed the approach and priorities of managing the public forest estate. Having the opportunity to maintain the skills, local knowledge and professional forestry expertise practise on the same forest area will aim to ensure continuity of good forest practise and create a diverse forest for the future.
My role commands an increasing and influential range of contacts, customers and stakeholders who each demand a professional integrity and expertise and knowledge of the subjects which I am involved with. Commercial development opportunities include working with public and private sector partnerships, with a current scheme of log cabin development in partnership with Forest Holidays. The scheme has the opportunity to provide new investment and new jobs to Wales, whilst providing diversification for the forest owner with an additional annual income.
My work encompasses a broad range of skills and expertise, with ongoing professional development, and one day is never the same. However, as a Chartered Member of the Institute, bound by a strict code of ethics, my clients and contacts know they’re dealing with a trusted professional.