International Women's Day 2022 - Women in the Woods!

8 Mar 2022

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Woman have been working in foresty in the UK since the First World War, when the Women’s Land Army and Forestry Corps was formed. Representation in the sector has improved over the past 100 yrs, but things are still not as equal as they could be. There are a number of reasons to for this, from recruitment practices to  forestry and land based jobs being presented as 'male occupations'.

At Small Woods, we are proud to employ women in a wide range of roles throughout the organisation. Here's Anna, an engagement officer who works for Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) at Craig Gwladus in Neath, to tell you what it's like to be a woman in the woods in 2022.


Tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you been working in woodlands?  

I've always worked in the outdoors - initially working on sail training boats and then as an outdoor pursuits instructor.  Working specifically in woodlands began when I started working for Coed Lleol in 2013 and it was an opportunity to do many of the activities that I have always taught, but in a different way, as well as to be more creative by teaching craft.

How did you get started?

My work with Coed Lleol - running woodland activities to improve participant's health and to improve the health of the woodlands -  fitted round having a young son, as well as with continuing my freelance work.  Having regular but flexible work is unusual and amazing!  Coed Lleol have also been very supportive of my own learning and I have worked on lots of different projects, alongside different organisations across S Wales.

What do you enjoy about your role? 

I enjoy the variety.  My most recent project has been community engagement based - running activities to enable local people to access and appreciate their local woodlands.  My new role is in woodland management, still working very much with groups but helping them to engage in practical work and to understand why its necessary.

What are the challenges of this type of work? 

The challenges are probably similar to lots of third sector work, which often is part time and has short term funding, which leads to lots of juggling.  I still work as an outdoor instructor and as a cycle guide on a freelance basis, as well as having set up a basket weaving business during Covid.

How do you feel about the gender balance in this industry? 

Within Coed Lleol the team is predominantly female (probably because it offers flexible part time work and is health based), although the rest of the woodland management team are male.  All of my other outdoor work has been male dominated and still is.  Basket making definitely less so, although I quite like the supposed contradiction between it and what is perceived as more physically demanding work (planting and harvesting willow and bending it is physical work!)

What do you think could be done to encourage more women to work in this area? 

I would hope that career options are broader that when I was at school - I was very academic and options were quite traditional (teaching).  I've never had a clear idea of a career but have always followed things that I am interested in and that I feel are beneficial.  There has been a growing interest in nature, the environment and how we relate to it and this needs to involve everyone.

What does International Women's Day mean to you? 

It's great to be inspired by people's stories and it is necessary to see women in a wide variety of roles in order for others to be able to imagine themselves in these roles.  Its also important for men to see women in all roles - I am often employed to work with girls schools or female groups but working with boys or leading male groups is just as important in terms of changing perceptions.

More information on careers in forestry can be found on