Peter Wilson FICFor CEnv, Wilson Applied Consultancy

How has chartered status helped your career?

To be honest, it is all about perception.

In the public mind, a forester is a lumberjack who spends his (never her!) time wearing a checked shirt and ‘chopping down trees’. When pressed, some may grudgingly admit that foresters might on occasion plant trees too but the public image is definitely focused on the chopping aspect not the planting and nurturing aspect of forestry.

I recall a distraught parent ringing me because her son wanted to study forestry at college rather than pursue a more conventional professional career. My brother had suggested she ring me to find out more and I did my best to explain that forestry was a real professional career choice and embraces an extraordinarily wide range of career options; in short, there was more to it than chopping down trees!

So, the greatest benefit of chartered status is that it shows that forestry is a proper grown-up profession and a Chartered Forester is a genuine professional: someone whose knowledge and professional judgement is to be taken seriously.

How does being a member of the Institute help you do your job better?

Being an ICF member is a splendid way to meet fellow professionals in a non-work setting.

Whatever your day job and whether you are at beginning of your professional career or closer to the end, as a Chartered Forester you are amongst your peers and every member has equal status and is treated with equal respect. In modern parlance, it is about ‘building your network’ but that is a somewhat clinical concept. Better to think of it as developing and maintaining friendships and professional contacts and perhaps enjoying a beer or two whilst doing so. Put it this way, it’s much more fun than Linkedin!

Why is the Institute of Chartered Forester’s membership important to you?

For me, it is about a sense of professional identity and giving something back to my profession.

I am particularly enthusiastic about the increasingly diverse nature of our profession although we still have a very long way to go if we are ever fully to reflect today’s exciting multi-cultural British society. So, over the years I have served on numerous committees, Council and the Executive Committee. I even held the reins for a few years serving as Executive Director. These days my main input is acting as an assessor for the examinations process.

My message to ICF members, particularly our younger members, is to get involved!

What motivated you to become chartered?

For me, being chartered provides the glue that binds fellow professionals together and I wanted to be part of the club. In a good way!

Why did you choose the Institute of Chartered Foresters?

As a forestry graduate it was the obvious choice! Perhaps, the only choice.

What is the best thing you’ve done through your ICF membership?

There have been many memorable moments of my membership.

Perhaps the most memorable ICF event that I attended was a study tour in Northern Ireland in the 1990s; it was memorable because of the insight into politics rather than silviculture although it turned out these were linked with the planting of ‘Peace Trees’ one aspect of bridge-building between the communities.

And the most enjoyable moment came on a study tour to Ireland when I was able to combine my passions for forestry and for sea-swimming by slipping down from the hotel to a beach in Co. Dublin to take a pre-breakfast dip in a chilly Irish Sea.