Ever wondered what it's like being a real life protector of the planet?
We chatted to John Deakin who is the Head of Trees at The National Trust.
We found out what the best bit about his job is, how we can all help to protect our woodlands and what he has in his sandwiches!
"Hi, I’m John and I’m the Head of Trees and Woodlands for the National Trust. We care for over 12 million trees and we plan to plant another 20 million in the next 10 years to help us tackle climate change and provide homes for wildlife."
How did you end up becoming the Head of Trees at The National Trust?
Well the idea started when I was, I think 14 at school, a chance conversation with a friend who was also interested in being a forester mentioned it and I thought that sounds ace. Since then I’ve been to Uni in Aberdeen, worked from Caithness to Cornwall, Wales to Windsor. It’s been a brilliant journey and my friend from school… he works for Bangor Uni in the Department of Forest Sciences.
The thought that I am doing something positive which will benefit people and the planet long after I’m gone.
How important are trees and what can we all do to help protect them?
Tree are the lungs of the planet; without them we wouldn’t be alive. The best thing we can all do is understand why they are important and how best to look after them to support everything that depends on them. That doesn’t always mean we shouldn’t cut them down either. Well managed woods are often better for nature and provide us with wood for building homes and furniture.
All trees are amazing in one way or another but if I had to choose one it would be the Douglas Fir. They’re beautiful, are some of the tallest trees in the world, incredibly useful for timber and they smell of pineapples.
Are there any trees that are endangered in the UK?
Sadly, there are quite a lot of pests and diseases that are affecting trees at the moment. Perhaps the most well-known is one called Ash Die Back which could end up killing up to 90% of all our Ash trees. This is really scary as Ash is one of our most common and important native trees! It’s not all bad news though as there is lots of work already happening to try and make sure those remaining trees are able to come back and create the ash woodlands of the future.
What does a typical day in your job involve?
Well, that’s probably the second-best bit of my job – every day can be totally different... These days I tend to spend more time behind a desk trying to make sure the people out there in the woods have the skills and advice they need to do their jobs well. However, the best days are always the ones when I’m out in the woodlands, solving problems and helping colleagues to do the best they can for our trees and woodlands.
What advice would you give to aspiring young foresters?
If you fancy a job as an arboriculturalist or forester – go for it! It has genuinely been an amazing job and one which I have enjoyed so much. There is loads of variety from super techy stuff to using big machines and everything in between. Best of all you know you are doing something positive for the planet!
What do you usually have in your sandwiches?
Well it’s almost always cheese, even better with some onion marmalade and perhaps even a few crisps thrown in for good measure!