Say hello to Bryce Flannaghan, our Graduate Forester and newest member of the Cumbria Woodlands Team
Tell us about your role and what you’ll be doing
My role was created from a partnership between Cumbria Woodlands, United Utilities and the Lake district foundation, which secured Green Recovery Challenge Funding through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This will finance the restoration of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) to their former natural condition throughout the Thirlmere Valley. This will increase overall biodiversity, mitigate the effects of extreme weather events and climate change, as well as improve the water quality of the Thirlmere reservoir, which supplies water throughout the Northwest. My responsibility is the planning and implementation of this woodland restoration and I hope to improve and protect these unique habitats so future generations can benefit from them.
How does it feel to start as a graduate forester?
The forest industry is full of passionate and knowledgeable individuals, which makes for very strong competition when seeking employment as a graduate with little experience. There are a few apprenticeship schemes or graduate places that will allow someone who is new to the industry to develop their skills and connect with professionals and I was very lucky to have secured one with Cumbria Woodlands. They, in partnership with United Utilities and the Lake District Foundation, have supported me in my transition from education to full-time work, providing essential equipment and offering many training opportunities. I couldn’t ask for a better start in forestry.
Have woodlands always been a passion of yours?
At first, no. I finished my A-Levels and had no idea what I wanted to do for a career, but I knew I wanted to work outdoors. I decided to do a forestry management course at the University of Cumbria on a whim and instantly loved it. I had never really thought about the importance of woodlands beyond their production of oxygen and as a place to go for a walk. Seeing the vast scope of industry reliant on forest products and learning how sustainable forest management benefits the wider environment and the health and wellbeing of society, made me realise that woodlands should be treasured and protected by all.
What are you most looking forward to in your role?
Forestry and its related sectors comprise a wide range of disciplines and everyone I have met so far has had a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a passion for their respective fields. I always learn something new when talking to colleagues or meeting woodland owners/ managers on site. This, in combination with the many training and learning opportunities provided by Cumbria Woodlands, mean I can look forward to expanding my knowledge and experience whilst in this role and hopefully this will continue throughout my career.
Have you always lived in Cumbria?
I’m originally from the North East but after moving to the lake district for university I couldn’t leave… There's a reason so many people visit the national park each year, the landscape is stunning and there’s no end of things to do if you enjoy being outdoors. I’m very fortunate to be able to live and work here.
What is your favourite place in the Lake District?
As a forester, you would probably think it would be a pristine woodland somewhere or the location of a remarkable ancient tree, but I love a challenging hike up a fell. My favourite area at the moment is the Langdale Pikes and If I’m feeling brave, I’ll scramble up Jacks Rake along the way. I should also mention my favourite woodland though, which is Heald Wood, a National Trust site on the west shore of Windermere with a nice mixture of ancient broadleaved woodland, large conifers and excellent views across the lake.
Any other passions outside of work?
Outside of work I enjoy Climbing, Hiking, and Wild Camping… and pretty much anything else you can do outdoors in the lakes. I also play the drums whenever I get the chance which, to the delight of my next-door neighbours, isn’t too often.
Find out more about the project here-
Find out more about the Lake District Foundation here-
Lake District Foundation