top of page

Secure Forests -"Protecting Futures"

“It’s amazing how a few words can sometimes fall into place, and accurately describe what it is we do.  What’s emerged through our exciting program this year, is that our people have used this term “protecting futures”. We know the world seems to be in constant “flux,” with more drama and noise appearing every day, which most of us cannot bare! So, the beauty and simplicity of a statement and  delivery of positive change,  has provided us with something exceptionally good, positive and rewarding to set our sights on.”

Richard Pyshorn FRGS- Director Secure Forests CIC


Secure Forests CIC Ltd is a non-profit organisation dedicated to key conservation objectives. We are trainers and consultants, who are military veterans and conservation scientists, who are dedicated to protecting our natural environment, using the practical skills and knowledge as a “Force for Good”.

For this purpose, we need highly trained and skilled, self-reliant veterans, and blue light services, who we can offer a unique opportunity, which could lead to an exceptionally rewarding career in Land Management and Global Conservation.




The year was the culmination of about 4 years of work, development, and operational roll out of a 2 phased project.


Phase 1, was to prove a concept and develop, what we term a “Forest Domain Awareness System”. This approach to forest and rainforest conservation, sees a holistic consultation and approach to protection of forests. It is essential to utilise and engage in the early phases of a project, to ensure that indigenous people have the “buy in and their say’ into what they need and require to support them in the protection of their Lands and Forests. The approach then builds layers of protection, from ground level intelligence, to Satellite Earth observation platforms. All data and information managed and maintained by the people who need it on the ground.

This approach provides better situational awareness and safety for Rangers and protected area managers who are on the front line of conservation.

The training and experience of veterans and former blue light services, supported by key academics, coaches from the private sector, UK Government business developers (Innovate UK) Cornwall Space Hub and from some of the UK’s leading Universities, such as University of Leicester Space Lab and the University of Exeter, who are at the forefront of conservation science, has led to the projects early successes.

We are also excited to be developing relationships and capabilities with industry, in areas such as LIDAR technologies. (more to follow in 2024).  This work with these agencies and supporters will be at the forefront of the development of our work in the coming years to come and we thank them for their help so far.


Phase 2, has been this year’s major focus and has seen the final development and roll out of the “Land Management and Wildlife Conservation Course.” The course which delivers functional land management and rural skills qualifications, is driven directly from a need from the Agroforestry and rural industries, for trained and qualified staff, who are resilient and have a passion for working in the outdoor environment.

The work started building the infrastructure to enable us to deliver high quality training. This involved purchase of our own tools and a workshop which was delivered and kitted out by the Secure Forests team and a few volunteers who have helped establish this. We also took over a building in a sawmill at Mount Edgcumbe which was converted into a bespoke teaching facility.


The course which is a modular program and sees the learners progress through the course at their own pace. This supports learners who are in current work or maybe due to the individuals mental or physical needs. The course can also be carried out, in full over a 7-week program, for those who can do this. Either way the course provides them with the logical progression and build-up of skills, that are essential for the rural job sector.

The course has formal accreditation and qualifications to level 3 in areas such as Health and Safety and Forest First Aid (F). We also work in partnership with our local agricultural college, Duchy College. They provide our level 3 vocational and specialist qualifications in subjects such as chainsaw, brush cutter, tractor and ATV/UTV driving. These skills are the “bread and butter” skills required by employers and landowners in the industry and give our learners a great. start and potential routes into their new careers.

Secure Forests also engage with the organisations such as “Natural England” a government agency, to better understand what are the in demand “red listed skills”. These skills will benefit both local and National initiatives. As a result of this engagement, we have developed modules such as the “Cornish hedging”. Cornish hedging is a version of “stone walling that is local and specific to the Devon and Cornwall regions. This has been a tremendous success, and our learners utilised the knowledge and talents of Southwest based experts the Cornwall Rural Education and Skills Trust (CREST) This organisation are dedicated to keeping rural craft and skills alive by and encouraging more people to learn and develop these historically significant practices.  This course has proven to be a really rewarding journey and experience for our course learners, with Secure Forests extending the experience days to give the learners more chance to develop and enjoy the craft.

Cornish Stone Hedging skills

Fi completing training on Stone hedging

Hard but rewarding skills

As part of the Land Management course, we ensure that we engage with the estate management team at our home at the Mount Edgcumbe Country park, Cornwall. This is to ensure we fit into with their plans and projects for stewardship of what is an incredibly diverse grade 1 listed landscape by the Sea.

Mount Edgcumbe House is the former home of the Earls of Mount Edgcumbe. Surrounded by formal gardens and set in a Grade I listed landscape, the country park covers 865 acres of the Rame Peninsula in Southeast Cornwall. The landscape has formal gardens and consists of grasslands and deciduous woodlands, and rare collections of flora and fauna. This all helps in the delivery of the Land management course and allows the learners to get involved with voluntary work and to learn from the Estate ranger team who collectively have 100’s of years of Land management knowledge and experience to share.

Now to our amazing learners and what a great start to the role out of the program. The course, which began in June recruited some great candidates and people onto the first course.

To get to the recruitment stage the months leading up to the May/June delivery saw the team conducting presentations and briefings for the region’s veterans and blue light services support services. This involved visits from Charities and organisations such as Department of Work and Pensions, Help for Heroes, Active Plus, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Associations. We also had a stand at the Plymouth Armed Forces Day. We describe our role as to provide a “hand up, rather than a handout”. This engagement and briefings presented us with some extremely good candidates to the scheme.  These candidates are drawn from all 3 services and have all struggled with their mental and physical well-being to different degrees. All have had real challenges but wanted to take the next steps and break the cycle and work in green space.

Each candidate must fulfil 90 hours of voluntary work in the Land Management sector and most completed this on the Mount Edgcumbe country park estate. Once completed and all-logbook’s checked candidates are invited for interview at Mount Edgcumbe before following interview and if background checks are clear they are offered a place on the program.

Each candidate’s journey can be different down to time and different career interests, however the initial stages i.e. 2 weeks must be completed first before they can progress. This is due to the Health and Safety and First Aid modules which allow us to conduct due diligence and responsibilities. This initial 2 weeks includes modules on current Policies and National and International strategies such as the recent COP28 findings and outcomes. This is essential to their development journeys in a world that more people are connected and relate to the plight of nature and the planet.

The course culminates with the learners completing all 7 modules of the program and submitting a portfolio of evidence which we then submit to the Institute of Occupational Learning (ITOL) for final accreditations and awards. This formal educational structure adds immense value to the program and to the learners who can provide this evidence to a potential employer.

2023 has seen 3 of our learners, now in full time employment in the rural sector, with 2 others using their skills as consultants and commercial drone pilots.

This has been the culmination of 4 years of hard work from a team that has delivered an incredible dream, which has now come to fruition. I would like to thank all the members of my team, Ian, Lucinda, and Kim who have got us across the line and have supported our candidates through all their challenges and have guided their journey to success!

A look forward to 2024. Sees us bringing more veterans through the program and developing more candidates from the “Blue light”, services and from the NHS. It will also see us developing an overseas conservation project utilising the skills of some of our candidates in the training of Rangers on the frontline of conservation. This will be an exciting and rewarding next step for our new members of the Secure Forests family.

Finally, I want to thank our candidates, for their honesty, trust, and belief in themselves, to make a change in their lives and take such a positive step!

I would like thank our funder “Oak Foundation”. Secure Forests work and the “Veterans and Blue Light Services Land Management and Wildlife Conservation” is courses are possible thanks to the support of Oak Foundation.



“Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social,

and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on

the lives of the disadvantaged. Through its grant-making, Oak Foundation

supports others to make the world a safer, fairer, and more sustainable.

place to live. With offices in Europe, India, and North America, Oak

Foundation makes grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries,.


Any further support and donations to our project to enable Veterans and former Blue Light services access this training would be gratefully received! Please contact: for further information on how you can help!


Testimonials Course 001/23:


Ryan- “With the support of Richard and Secure Forests, I have been able to emerge from my past troubles with a fresh sense of purpose, a passion for conservation, a knowledge that I am playing a part in the essential preservation of the Earth’s green spaces and the skills to bring about real, tangible, identifiable and measurable change, ensuring generations to come have access to the ‘green prescription’ that has played such a pivotal role in my own life. - Former Army Commando


Patricia- “It’s been one year now since, I first arrived at the country park and at Secure Forests and I cannot tell you how different and better my life is because of the thinking time and space you gave me.” – Former Royal Navy- Engineering Officer


Jez- “The secure forest journey is more than I ever expected so far. I never thought I would be able to take to it as quickly as I have, the skills I have gained from learning about deer management to forestry First Aid have been priceless, the level of instruction and the will to develop all who have taken part in the course from Richard and Ian have been inspirational and has helped me find myself again. Even learning how to make a wooden spoon from a piece of sweet chestnut enabled me not just to make something with my own hands but also to focus completely on a task and teach me how to see clearly and get rid of the white noise in my head. The major highlight was sitting with wolves, an experience that will live with me for ever. It is plain to see how Richard and Ian are so invested in helping the people on the course as well as myself to get the best start in civilian life of which I will be eternally grateful for, as well as the friends for life I have made from the other people on the course.  

Moving forward I hope to continue to be part of the Secure Forest family in any means.

The course is more than just gaining various qualifications for land management and wildlife conservation, its being a part of something special and I am looking forward to the future.” -Former Royal Air Force Regiment

More to follow!

For further information on the courses or operational work Secure Forests conduct please contact the team at:

or give us a call at 0044(0)1752823601 0r mobile: 07854149475

Happy New Year 2024!

119 views0 comments


bottom of page