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NEWS RELEASE No: 1453224 MARCH 2011

Forestry Apprentices plant seeds of an exciting career (and trees)!

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Four young people in East Devon and Somerset are gaining valuable forestry experience on a pilot apprentice scheme.  The scheme, which is headed by the Forestry Commission in partnership with The Silvanus Trust and Bicton College, is giving them the chance to gain qualifications and hands on work experience in forestry techniques.

The apprentices are learning skills essential to the sector and most recently they have had the chance to plant new trees.  The recent tree planting season has given them the opportunity to learn more about planning, preparing and planting at sites such as Wild Warren Wood near Axminster where 5000 mixed species were established and  Buckland Wood on the Blackdowns where they planted 1000 spruce trees.  They have also been working to develop essential woodland management skills such as the use of a chainsaw and brush cutter. 

In addition two of the apprentices have gained tree climbing skills which have already been put to good use when they assisted with erecting owl boxes high in the branches on Exmoor.  They will go on to assist local teams with necessary tree surgery work this month.  Others are being trained in high pruning and how to process smaller branches into wood chip.

One of the apprentices, Tom Houlden working for Clinton Devon Estates in East Devon, says:

“We are being given great opportunities to gain qualifications and valuable work experience, which will really help us gain employment in the future.  I am enjoying the variety of the training and developing my skills and would definitely like to work in the sector in the future.”

Commenting on the progress of the apprentice scheme, David West, Development Manager at the Forestry Commission says:

“Forestry is an incredibly important sector, particularly within the South West of the country.  In these times of economic difficulty, and with concern about employment, particularly for young people, it is fantastic that apprentices are being given the chance to develop essential skills and experience, which will hopefully lead them on to successful careers.”

Jane Hart, Apprentice coordinator from The Silvanus Trust says:

“I’m really pleased with how they are progressing and showing such enthusiasm for taking on new tasks.  In one year they have already developed so much and I thank our partner organisations, and those that have provided work placements for their input – this is a great example of an effective apprentice scheme.  The scheme is due to finish at the end of this year, and before then the guys are going to gain a lot more experience.”

The pilot forestry apprenticeship programme is funded by Making it Local, incorporating funding from the EU, Defra, SWRDA and LEADER, and the Forestry Commission.



  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  Further information can be found at

  2. Making it Local is a five year grants fund offering up to £100,000 support for projects that make the most of the outstanding landscape and local skills and bring long lasting prosperity and economic benefit to the area.  The programme has two funding schemes; the Main Grants Fund (£10,000-£100,000) and the Small Grants Fund (£1,000-£10,000). The Programme area covers East Devon AONB and Blackdown Hills AONB .

  3. The programme will run from 2009 to 2013. Funding of £2.4m has been secured for Making it Local from the Rural Development Programme for England, through the South West Regional Development Agency.  Decisions are made locally by a Local Action Group. The Making it Local Team are employed by Devon County Council and are based within the two Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offices of East Devon and Blackdown Hills.

  4. Making it Local is a locally managed grants scheme in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB areas incorporating funding from the EU, Defra, South West RDA and Leader.

  5. Clinton Devon Estates comprises three separate estates, the Beer and Clinton Estates in East Devon and the Heanton Estate in North Devon.  In addition to traditional farming and forestry operations, the Estates encompass 2,800 acres of the East Devon Pebblebed heaths, three business parks, residential property and a number of small businesses.  The Estates remain a family concern and our commitment to the county of Devon and the wider South West region of England underpins all activity, long term planning and purpose.

  6. The Silvanus Trust is working through partnerships to regenerate the woodlands in the South West for economic, social and environmental benefits.  They influence policy for sustainable and viable woodlands, support those with an interest in or working in wood and woodlands, support the South West wood industry to promote a sustainable woodland economy and research and promote best practice.

  7. Bicton College is a leading land-based college set within an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Devon.  The grounds comprise 200 hectares of open parkland and rolling countryside; a majestic Georgian manor house alongside the latest in modern facilities and equipment.  It is the perfect setting for the range of land-based courses that are available from entry level to higher education in a number of subject areas including agriculture, countryside management and arboriculture, environment, equine studies, horticulture and outdoor leisure.

For more information contact Jane Hart, Apprenticeship Coordinator, The Silvanus Trust on 01752 846400 or Kirstie Smith, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission on 01392 834249.