CONFERENCE: Taking the positive forestry message into schools

12 December 2022

Timber buyer and harvesting manager Laura Jermy described how a bad experience at school for her son got her involved in changing attitudes towards modern forestry.

"My son came home from school and said the teacher had told him how bad it was to chop a tree down," said Laura, who works for TG & DS Norman, based in Cumbria. 

"I spoke to the headteacher and explained about why that happens. They were very happy to listen, as they were working towards being a more sustainable school," said Laura, who won the Changing Attitudes prize at the Confor Awards Dinner in early 2022. 

Laura now talks to primary schools in her area about the different uses for wood - including pallets for bringing food to supermarkets, fencing and biomass for heating - and where that wood comes from. 

"We take groups of kids to see trees being harvested and show them the finished products in the sawmill," she said in a video message played at Confor's policy conference. "It means much, much more when you show them. 

"We also tell them how we protect the badgers, and the birds, and everything that lives in the woodland." 

Laura said there was a strong interest from teachers to hear what she told the children, and the most common comment about the industry was: "I did not know that." 

She said she hoped to expand into secondary schools and start to talk more about career paths into forestry. 

"If you can get across a positive message to one child in a class, you have done what you needed to do," she said. "And I also use social media which is great for using videos to show how wood is used and where it comes from."