It's time to get to know another member of our team! This time we introduce Gary, our Woodland Creation Forester for the Community Forest Project.
So why trees?
We have a great opportunity as stewards of land to maintain and enhance the environment for current and future generations. To me, with a range of management, trees encapsulate this, once planted and cared for a tree can mature and flourish for centuries.
How did you get into forestry?
Growing up, I would help out with the family tree surgery business. Whilst it was hard graft I learnt to appreciate the joy of working outdoors. When I realised there were jobs in forestry I decided to leave sunny Kent and went to study Woodland Ecology at the National School of Forestry in Ambleside. After graduating I spent a few years working for commercial forest management companies before returning to Cumbria to work with Cumbria Woodlands.
What's been the best thing about joining Cumbria Woodlands?
As well as being genuine, enthusiastic and friendly. The wealth and range of experience held within the team is a real strength. Everyone has a different set of skills to bring to the huge range of projects that Cumbria Woodlands delivers.
What are you doing within Cumbria Woodlands?
I am the Woodland Creation Forester for the Community Forest. Set up in November 2021, our goal is to support communities in bringing trees into the urban and rural landscape from Barrow in Furness up to Carlisle. To help promote tree planting, as the forester for the Community Forest, we have access to bespoke grant funding to cover the costs of schemes developed by and for the communities of Cumbria.
What's different from your previous forestry roles?
Within this role, I have the exciting opportunity to work with a wide range of communities; from local schools, passionate farmers, parish councils and more...
Having the chance to work with people, to see the different ways in which trees and woodlands can have a positive impact on their experience of the landscape they live and work within has been eye-opening.
What do you want to try and achieve?
Short term, I want to play my part in the project's target of planting a tree for each person within Barrow, Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle. Long term, I am passionate about building a 'Forest Culture' within Cumbria, where the value of trees and woodlands to people's daily life (broadly Social, Environmental and Economic) can be widely understood and promoted.
What is the biggest challenge within the project?
Within the Community Forest area, we are privileged to have a beautiful and diverse landscape. Finding the right place for the right tree that is complimentary to existing land use is the first and most important challenge. Having positive conversations with a range of landowners and finding opportunities is rewarding but not always straightforward!
What gets you excited about trees?
The diverse role a tree can play within a landscape. Not only is it an Oak tree in a forest that can live for 300 years. A tree can be a shelter for livestock in a field, it can be Dwarf Willow or Juniper as part of montane scrub in the fells, trees can provide raw materials for traditional crafts such as hurdle making. Above and beyond this the ecosystem services woodlands can provide in flood risk mitigation, carbon sequestration, and providing shade for people and animals continue to keep me excited about the positive impact trees have in our environment.
What's your favourite part of Cumbria?
Cumbria is such a diverse county, I enjoy the sense of adventure and discovery that is always within reach. A wander around Dalegarth Falls (Eskdale) and its surrounding woods captures the natural beauty and cultural heritage which Cumbria has in spades.
What do you get up to when not working with trees?
Outside of the woods, I enjoy exploring the fells with my partner Kayley and our spaniel Arty. When the weather allows I look for every chance to scramble and climb on any boulder or ridge within my reach.
Find out more about the Community Forest HERE