Chainsaw Envy

This week I have been kept busy with inspecting and clearing the aftermath of the last few weeks storms. Whenever we get strong winds there is plenty for me to do at work as I have to check that none of the fallen trees are dangerous and then find the landowners responsible for the trees to get them cleared.

Whilst I love my job as I’m outside 80% of the time and I would hate a 9-5 office job, I do find the manual labour of clearing trees with hand tools a little laborious as I used to be a full time chainsaw operator whilst completing an internship with the RSPB. Clearing trees was so much quicker and easier with a trusty Sthil chainsaw to hand rather than a pair of loppers and a bow saw which is where my chainsaw envy comes from. As I spend most of my time lone working I have to clear trees with hand tools as we are not allowed to do chainsaw work alone and it is more cost effective for landowners to clear their trees if we can’t tackle them with a bow saw.

I loved my time working as an intern for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) at Coombes Valley and Churnet where I gained my chainsaw, pesticide and tree safety advisor qualifications and worked with 2 other interns to complete a Woodland Improvement Grant project.

Internship Job Description:

Assisting the team to carry out the weekly work programme of habitat management and estate work which may include: woodland management, maintaining gates, stiles, bridges and boardwalks, fencing, footpath maintenance and repairs. Assisting as part of a small reserve team day to day management and admin tasks such as entering
records onto Merlin, updating Cross Compliance records, assisting with organising the weekly volunteer work programme & supervising volunteer work parties. Carrying out trail safety audits, machinery, vehicle and buildings checks weekly. Maintaining visitor facilities on a rota basis including basic cleaning of visitor reception area and toilets, assisting with Quality Assurance checks to maintain high standards of facilities. Assisting the Site Manager to deliver a visitor experience that created memorable opportunities to connect people with nature and increase their support for The RSPB. Assisting with managing and motivating of a team of volunteers to provide a brilliant visitor experience and generate income for the reserve through membership, entrance charges and donations. Assisting with the delivery of a programme of income-generating events, which helped convert visits into active support and meet key performance indicators. This including 2 history walks and a big garden birdwatch support event. Managing an effective programme of ongoing evaluation to track visitor satisfaction on site. Assisting with the reserve’s social-media presence.

I worked 4 days a week clearing holly from the reserve and spent the other day each week completing all of the other tasks. This meant whatever the weather come rain or shine or even snow (apart from 40mph+ winds) we were out chainsawing and clearing the holly. Check out our ‘life in the week of an intern‘ blog to see what our weeks consisted of.

The internship with the RSPB was a live in position so I gained great friendships with the other interns and the volunteer team at the reserve but the icing on the cake though was winning star baker in our own bake off. I would highly recommend an internship with the RSPB for anyone looking to develop their conservation skills for getting yourself a job in the outdoor sector. They have a number of opportunities around the UK in some stunning places so take a look for yourself and see if you could start your career with the RSPB.


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