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CPD & Career Development

Sam Brown MICFor, Forest Manager at Tilhill Forestry, reflects on the impact CPD has had on his career development.

Members of the Institute are asked to provide evidence of continual professional development over a rolling three-year period.  This is an obligation of Professional membership but, most importantly, it’s key to maintaining, updating, and improving my forestry knowledge so I can perform my work to high standards for my clients, my employer, and myself.

My CPD tends to fall into two main categories: Institute events and events arranged by other bodies. A small amount of time is also dedicated to delivering guest lectures/field visits, for example to forestry students. These are usually events that provide the chance to update my knowledge on best practice, new thinking, and developments with pests and diseases. As my career has developed, the range of topics of these events has broadened and really helped to push my knowledge in forestry.

After reflecting on Josh Roberts MICFor’s blog Is CPD Enough?, I have realised I also undertake some unstructured learning and can see that it would be beneficial to start writing up learning points and consolidating what I have read – one for me to work on over the next few years (and start recording).

Below are three examples of CPD events that have stood out for me:

Young Professionals Study Tour, Hexham in 2016.

This was the first large study tour that I attended with the Institute. It was organised by Sam Booth MICFor (then of Egger Forestry) in a part of the UK I had never visited, which made it appealing. We looked at a new planting scheme, existing forests and their management, and a block being converted to CCF. Living and working in Wales, it was good to see these projects in a Forestry Commission England regulatory frame; largely the challenges were similar to projects I was familiar with. This is good to know, as there can be a perception that forestry is more favourable in different devolved countries. This was also close in time to my Professional interview for chartered membership and so was a good opportunity to question current members and others who were going through the same process.

ICF National Conference 2018 – Innovation for Change, Edinburgh.

I was lucky enough to attend the ICF National Conference Innovation for Change in Edinburgh in 2018.  I was really impressed with this event, which had many speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and fields. There is more information presented than you can take in and the opportunity to speak with foresters and other professionals that you normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to speak to is hugely valuable. These events are quite difficult to summarise afterwards and I have taken to identifying a few key points, usually on the drive or train home, that I can take forward or look into further.


Sitka Spruced, Roslin Institute

I recently attended an excellent event at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh by the Sitka Spruced Project, which is looking into genomic selection in Sitka spruce and how this can be translated into information and solutions for the UK forest industry as a whole. The event had a range of speakers and was pitched at a level so everybody present could learn something. We also had the opportunity to contribute towards discussions about where we think the forestry industry should be utilising the technology and technics presented. This event was particularly good for speaking with other foresters, saw millers, academics, and government body representatives to see their view of tree breeding and its role in the future of British forestry.

I truly think that the most valuable gain from events, apart from technical updates, is speaking to other foresters and professionals about the subject we are looking at. They may have different approaches, offer different solutions, or just have a different outlook on the same subject.  Discussing these things with a range of people helps me broaden the way I see forestry and question why I do things the way I do, which helps me identify better ways of doing things.

One event I’m particularly looking forward to in 2020 is the Young Professionals Study Tour in Wales next summer, which I am co-hosting on behalf of Tilhill Forestry with Michael Cresswell MICFor from Natural Resources Wales (and which the Institute will announce soon). Hopefully, I will see some familiar and new faces there or at another CPD event very soon.

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