“There is this huge misconception around professional forestry. Over my four years of study, whenever somebody asked me what I was studying, and I replied with, ‘forestry’, I always got a funny look, which was often followed by ‘Why do you go to uni for that, do you need a degree to use a chainsaw?’ Or ‘Don’t you just bang trees in the ground and leave them for 25 years?’
“For an industry that contributes as much as it does to our GDP, the general public just don’t understand what really goes on in the planning and professional side. I went into studying knowing that there is a lot more than just planting trees and a bit of economics, but even I was surprised at the huge amount of learning material and the level of technicality there is in a forestry degree. It’s like engineering but for trees.”
During his time at university, Blake spent several summers and holidays working out in the coalface of the industry completing work experience. This involved working for harvesting crews in several roles, including log making, tree felling, and skidder operating. The practical skills obtained in the field were undoubtedly useful for his study and Blake would recommend getting this experience to any student.
“That means girls, too. There a plenty of women in this industry and it is not uncommon at all to see women working on harvesting sites.”
From biology to ecology, statistics, and chemistry, right through to complex soil science, economics, GIS, management, and road engineering, Blake was pretty surprised by the broad range of material in the degree and as one of his lecturers accurately described, it was almost like “learning some things about everything”.
Blake says there are not many courses on offer where there are more job opportunities going than there are final year students, and he says if you think this sounds like a bit of you, contact a local forestry company and asking if you can ride shotgun with one of the managers for a few days and see what it’s all about.
“There is something for everyone in forestry: if you like nature and conserving it, study forestry. If you like destroying nature with 46 tonne 600 horsepower diesel burning machines, study forestry. If you would like to manage millions of dollars of a natural, sustainable resource, then study forestry. And if you would like to have a very competitive salary, a new company ute, fuel card, and cell phone, study forestry.”