Over 200 forestry and arboriculture students from across the UK flocked to the inaugural Future Foresters event at Moulton College last Friday where they were challenged to drive a technological revolution in the industry.
Key note speaker, Jez Ralph from Timber Strategies, told them: “There is a new future and it is digital. It is going to come very fast! You are the people who will take up that challenge. Being able to use digital skills is as much a forestry skill as any traditional technique.”
Jez also noted that forestry in the UK has been lagging behind other sectors. However, a revolution in the industry is being fuelled by developments in robotics, data acquisition, scanning, acoustic, sonic and microscopic technologies as they become more cost effective to use in the field.
Jez continued: “Those entering the sector today need to make sure that they are fully abreast of high tech opportunities that exist across planning, planting, harvesting and using timber.”
Other expert speakers at the event organised by the Royal Forestry Society included Phil Wade from Sorbus International, Nick Pott from Arbsites, Dan Ridley-Ellis of Edinburgh Napier University and Jonas Wikner of Haglof in Sweden.
Twenty five companies and organisations provided hands on exhibitions and demonstrations, from drone technology to the latest in chippers, and from computerised callipers to innovations in climbing harnesses.
Arboriculture Lecturer Adam Sharman from Moulton College said: "It was simply fantastic to see so many students listening to the countless opportunities that exist within the sector and take part in the hands-on demonstrations. It really opened their eyes to what they could achieve in their future careers."
RFS Future Foresters Officer Adam Todd said: “There is a real buzz about forestry and arboriculture today. New technologies are impacting on the way we plan, plant, harvest and market our woodlands and our timber.
“Our Future Foresters Technology Day proved just how exciting a sector this is for those coming into it and our thanks go to our speakers and to the 25 exhibitors who have been so enthusiastically engaged with so many students. The future for our sector is looking very positive!"