Jump to Navigation

Forestry Commission Wales is taking action to plug a growing skills gap in the forests of Wales by offering work to contractors who agree to take on apprentices.

FC Wales, which manages the 126,000 hectares (311,000 acres) of woodland owned by the Welsh Government, hope the six new contracts up for grabs will help to secure the future of an industry worth £370 million a year to the Welsh economy.

The new-style contracts offer five years of stability to forestry businesses – provided they agree to take on and train apprentices to NVQ level 2.

The Commission drew up the “apprenticeship contracts” after a resource study in 2009 identified a growing shortage of contractors able to perform chainsaw and wire-rope working in our woodlands.

Hugh Jones, head of Wales Harvesting and Marketing (WHaM), said, “Traditionally, our contracts have been about a certain price to do a specified job.

“These new contracts go further in that we wish to work closely with businesses who show a willingness to work with us and training providers.

“We will use the contracts as a vehicle to generate both new entrants into the industry and even an element of upskilling of existing workers.”

The contracts, which cover tree felling work in forests from the Llandovery area in Carmarthenshire to Dolgellau in Snowdonia, are being offered at a time when new opportunities to enter the industry are emerging.

Woodlands for Wales, the Welsh Government’s strategy for trees and woodlands, makes a commitment to reduce clearfelling in order to create more natural and diverse forests by shifting to lower-impact management techniques such as thinning.

Hugh said, “It’s generally recognised that there is potential for small-scale business and job creation in Welsh forests because the level of thinning work is increasing. But we also recognise that we need to do something different from traditional timber contracts to provide new opportunities and encourage new entrants into the industry.

“We hope these new long term contracts (LTCs) will go some way to enabling this to happen.”
Wales has a thriving forest industry which employs in the region of 8,900 people and the LTCs will improve the skills base of the sector, while helping FC Wales to meet its annual harvest target of timber from Welsh woodlands.

FC Wales has placed an advert in newspapers and trade magazines inviting tenders for six contracts for skidder/skyline work totalling about 42,000 tonnes a year and one contract for traditional harvester/forwarder work worth about 10,000 tonnes a year across Wales.

The contracts will be for an initial three years with a two-year extension based upon satisfactory completion of the first term. The closing date for tenders is Thursday, 13 October and it’s anticipated the contracts will be awarded in early November.

Hugh said, “About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands and a thriving forest industry is important to the Welsh rural economy.

“A career in forestry is very worthwhile and the Welsh Government’s timber marketing strategy, indicating increasing thinning programmes, provides exciting opportunities during a difficult time for the economy as a whole.”

Forestry businesses interested in tendering for the contracts should contact Claire Evans, Welsh Government, Forestry Commission Wales, Rhodfa Padarn, Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3UR, phone 0300 068 0007, email claire.evans@forestry.gsi.gov.uk


Extpub | by Dr. Radut