Me & My Job - Sarah Duckworth, tree/landscape officer, Wokingham Council

How did you get started? I started off doing an Italian degree and then went to work in IT.

Sarah Duckworth - Image: Wokingham Borough Council
Sarah Duckworth - Image: Wokingham Borough Council

I decided on a career change and got a job at a tree nursery. Then I went back to college and re-trained in horticulture before specialising in arboriculture.

What does your typical day involve? I look at trees on planning development sites, asses them for tree preservation orders, carry out health inspections and process tree preservation order applications. I have lots of face-to-face meetings and do a lot of tree plantings and that sort of thing.

What is the best part of your job? I particularly enjoy feeling that what I do is worthwhile and most of the time we get a very positive response from the public. You get a lot of support for tree protection, so looking after trees in the borough is very satisfying.

And the worst? When trees have been felled and we haven't been able to prevent it or when we haven't been able to persuade people to retain their trees. We are never going to be able to win everybody round and some people are anti trees on their property for whatever reason. It can be frustrating trying to convince people that trees are lovely.

What piece of kit can you not do without? My rubber mallet for tree inspections. I use it to test the sound intonations of the tree and its integrity. There are lots of expensive bits of equipment but the great thing about the mallet is that it is very cheap, simple and effective.

How do you wind down after a hard day? I like to do a lot of gardening and tree planting. I also walk a lot and in the summer I like to go canoeing.

What is your greatest achievement? I recently won the Royal Forestry Society Lockhart Garratt trophy for the most outstanding professional diploma student in 2009. I have always wanted to achieve the diploma so to get it with an award has been fabulous.

What does the future hold? I would like to do more with trees and planning. I will maybe look at chartered forester status, but generally I just want to work hard and continue my professional development.


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