Richard Topley


With First Careers you will meet lots of different people with lots of different jobs!

What I do

I am a forester for the Forestry Commission, who manage a large area of public forest across Great Britain. I manage forests in Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester. I am responsible for all the work that goes into managing a forest, including planting and felling [cutting down].

How I got my job

I studied a forestry degree at Bangor University, which included a year out working for the Forestry Commission. When I completed my degree, I then was lucky enough to apply and get a job back working with the Forestry Commission.

What I love about my job

Where to start! I grew up on a farm, so enjoy being outdoors, and I love trees, so it’s pretty much the perfect job! I have been lucky enough to work in some amazing forests and been involved in creating lots of new forests, including a number of new forests near large cities like Manchester. Forestry has become a diverse [varied] industry and every day can be a new different challenge.

What’s difficult about my job

As the job is so diverse it can be difficult to juggle all of the challenges at once.

What skills I need

There are a number of skills I learnt at school that I thought I would never use again but use every day. I measure a lot of trees, which takes maths! I deal with budgets and write contracts and plans, but there’s also a lot of walking and being outdoors!

A big part of my job is working with other people, so you do need to be a bit of a team player but also very self-motivated.

Where should young people start if they want to do the job, too?

Get out and enjoy the forest. Try to see how trees interact with each other and how they are important to other things, such as animals and plants and the different habitats around and in the forests. Go and volunteer with the Forestry Commission or at your local park. It’s important to have a passion for trees and the outdoors, as well as having a good academic record.

How my job could change in the future

Forestry is in a very exciting place right now, as climate change and disease are bringing in the need to mix up the type of species we are planting and how we manage the existing trees, which means we are, and will, be able to try new things and shape the future of forestry.