Traditional Crafts

Historically, Britain’s woodlands were managed to source wood and wood products, many of which were essential for providing shelter, food and heat (fire). The methods used to do this work are commonly referred to as ‘traditional wood crafts.’ Due to social and economic changes, there has been a rise in the popularity of traditional woodland management.

Despite the development of new materials, wood is still a vital product. However, the source of the wood products we use has become a global rather than a local trade. While traditional wood crafts are kept alive today, this is most often seen as a hobby undertaken by those with an interest in preserving old knowledge and skills.

Efforts to bring woodlands across Britain back into management has seen a growth in coppice management and associated crafts such as charcoaling, greenwood working, biofuels, hedge laying and others. This growth and development has seen employment opportunities become available within the sector.

Bushcraft Instructor

The bushcraft industry focuses on generating profit from woodlands via the general public. Bushcraft courses teaching survival skills and traditional woodland skills, are becoming increasingly popular. These courses provide an opportunity for the public to experience woodlands in a way not permitted by access rights. The work is largely seasonal with far more courses taking place during the summer than the winter. Consequently, finding a permanent job as a Bushcraft Instructor can be problematic, competition for such jobs is fierce. There are a range of bushcraft and survival skills training courses and qualifications available that may improve employment opportunities, but won’t guarantee work. As many instructors are self-employed, business skills are as important when setting out in the industry. First aid qualifications and a knowledge/understanding of H&S and risk assessments is essential as is a basic level of physical fitness and a passion to work outside in all weathers.

Typically self-employed or seasonal with earnings dependant on courses provided

Bushcraft Instructor Case Study

Coppice Worker

Coppice work encompasses a broad range of different skills from the management of coppice woodland, to the process of adding value to the wood produced by making it into charcoal or through greenwood crafts. Due to the short rotation time of coppice plantations, there is a relatively steady flow of work to be done on any given coppice plantation creating opportunities for coppice workers to develop relationships with landowners if they work contractually, or even to gain permanent employment on one site. With the increasing popularity of biomass generators, the coppice industry is receiving renewed attention and a number of apprenticeship schemes have become available.

Typically self-employed and seasonal – estimated wage of £9,000 – £19,000 per annum

Coppice Worker Case Study

 QJF Oct 2007 – “The Coppice Industry: Training and Development in the South-East” by Debbie Bartlett and David Rossney


Woodturners turn wooden blanks on lathes into wood products. These can either be modern power lathes, or traditional pole lathes where the power needed to turn the blank comes from a foot-powered pedal. A woodturner generally works with green (unseasoned) wood. For many people woodturning begins as a hobby, or as a self-employed part-time job. As well as selling their products, woodturners can make money through being hired to provide demonstrations at shows and fairs. The AWGB (Association of Woodturners of Great Britain) offers a certificate in woodturning as well as training for demonstrators and instructors.

Typically self-employed with earnings dependant on products produced

Woodturner USA Case Study

Horse Logger

Horse loggers use working horses to extract felled trees, often being employed to extract trees from areas with limited access where modern forestry equipment might struggle to reach without causing excessive damage. The use of horses to do this provides a low-impact, sustainable alternative to conventional machinery. Finding a job as a horse logger can be difficult as most horse loggers are self employed contractors. However, an Accredited Apprenticeship Scheme has been established by the British Horse Loggers Charitable Trust. The aim of this apprenticeship scheme is to give apprentices the skills and knowledge to become self employed contractors at the end of their apprenticeship.

Typically self-employed and seasonal – estimated wage of £9,000 – £19,000 per annum

Horse logger Case Study

QJF Oct 1999 – “The Role of Horses in Forestry, Based on Case Studies from the UK and Sweden” by Frankie Abbott