Shona Smyth, Tilhill Forestry

How will chartered status help you going forward?

Chartered status demonstrates a level of professionalism and helps to build relationships with clients and peers from other areas of the industry that I wouldn’t necessarily mix with in day to day work; including, arboriculturalists and urban foresters. It offers a fresh perspective on particular industry topics through a wide network available for advice and support.

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

The first few years out of university in the working world has been a steep learning curve with Tilhill Forestry, particularly as I’ve been based in England and Wales. Both of these have been stimulating opportunities within lowland and upland forestry and a great opportunity to broaden my knowledge base. The institute has acted as a platform for working standards and ensures that everything I do meets the code of ethics. It has helped me raise my own professional standards, helping better myself by pushing to learn and work to the standard of a Chartered Forester.

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

Membership gives me the opportunity to share my commitment and dedication to the forest industry with other young professionals, offering a wider perspective on industry issues, particularly through peer learning. It also demonstrates to clients that I am serious about what I do and comply with a particular standard. This is particularly important when completing new planting designs, where there are a number of different stakeholders are involved many of which may hold their own chartership be it a Chartered Environmentalist or RICS accreditation.

What motivates you to become chartered?

Becoming chartered and receiving affiliation seems almost like a rite of passage in the forest industry. I want to be able to share my commitment and dedication to the industry with others, and in particular with perspective young professionals. It’s heartening to see more young people wanting to come into, and showing an interest in the industry. I want to be able to encourage others in the way I have been throughout my career journey so far.

Why do you choose the Institute of Chartered Foresters?

I have known about the ICF since studying at Harper Adams, where membership was recommended. Being a Student member assisted with studies as I was able to keep up to date with the latest events and research for wider reading. When applying for work being a Student member made me stand out from the crowd. Tilhill Forestry encourage all of their managers to become chartered. I soon applied for Associate membership upon graduating and joining Tilhill Forestry. I am looking forward to returning to Harper in September to study for an MSc in Forest Management, to support my application for full membership. I have had so much support and advice so far with the application process and encouragement of career development through a wide range of Study Tours and courses for knowledge exchange; with the now Young Professionals Study Tour, providing the opportunity for recent graduates to share experiences with peers of a similar age group.

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

The Young Professionals Study Tour has been a highlight for me. It was a great opportunity to see various aspects of the industry, including new planting and sawmilling and to be able to network with those in the industry of a similar age.