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Interview with Founder and Director of Tree Sparks

Jemima Letts

The Institute of Chartered Foresters interviews Jemima Letts, Founder and Director of Tree Sparks, as she prepares to address the Institute’s flagship conference: The UK’s Role in Global Forestry this April in Oxford.

Who is Jemima Letts?

Jemima is an undergraduate forestry student in her final year at Bangor University. She previously worked as an outdoor activity instructor and a qualified volunteer ranger for the Peak District National Park Authority. She is currently a publications officer for the International Forestry Students Association and campaign & fundraising coordinator on the Students for Trees Council.

In 2018, Jemima won the Social Impact and Future Entrepreneur Awards at Big Ideas Celebrated. Following this success, she decided to start Tree Sparks to inspire the next generation of foresters.

Tell us about your presentation

My presentation will draw upon my journey into forestry from school to university, the barriers I faced and how this led to myself founding Tree Sparks. I will set out my vision for youth in forestry and how Tree Sparks aims to achieve this, demonstrating why students and young professionals should be a driving force behind this.

Why is your presentation important for our conference?

The stereotype of male checked shirt wearing foresters still exists to a certain extent and this needs to change if we are to encourage the next generation into forestry. We, as a profession, need to work to change the perceptions surrounding forestry, get people talking about forestry, and demonstrate that careers in forestry are viable and hugely rewarding.

What is the biggest challenge facing global forestry?

There are many challenges facing the environment. Climate change is progressing, ecosystems are becoming degraded and at the same time the global population is growing, putting more pressure on our natural resources. I think forestry is a big part of the solution, but if we are going to effectively combat these challenges, we need a strong future workforce to enter into the forestry profession.

What would you like to see the UK do?

I want to see the UK continuing to tackle climate change and also challenge the negative perceptions which can sometimes surround forestry.

How did you get into forestry?

I stumbled across forestry when I was looking into studying countryside management at university. After persuading my parents to drive me the 250 miles to Bangor University for an open day, I was sold – who wouldn’t want to spend four years studying trees in Wales?! However, the lumberjack stereotype still existed – my teachers just saw forestry as a manual labour job, my parents feared that, as a woman, I wouldn’t be right for the subject and my friends thought I had totally lost the plot. I’m now in my final year of studying BSc Forestry at Bangor University, finding it difficult to decide which area of forestry I want to work in!


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