Arthur William Heywood was was qualified in English, French, and German. In January 1884 he was appointed as clerk to the superintendent of woods and forests of the Cape Colony, Count M. de Vasselot de Regne*. De Vasselot, a Frenchman, did not speak English and hence required the services of an assistant who could translate French reports into English. Among others Heywood translated three reports by de Vasselot: Introduction of systematic treatment to the crown forests of the Cape Colony: Summary of rules and instructions and Selection and seasoning of wood, both published in Cape Town in 1885, and Hop cultivation (Cape Town, 1888). Heywood appears to have been already quite knowledgeable about forestry at this time, for he was the author of the article on "Cape woods and forests" in the Official handbook of the Cape of Good Hope (pp. 140-154), published in 1886.
Despite his promising work in the Forestry Department Heywood left for an appointment as second class clerk in the Prime Minister's office in July 1887. However, he returned in July 1888 to be appointed district forest officer in the Western Conservancy for the next seven years. Though stationed mainly at Uitvlugt on the Cape Flats, his duties included an inspection of the drift sand problem along the Cape coast. He reported on the problem in two Parliamentary Reports. In Drift sands in the Divisions of Caledon and Bredasdorp (1893) he disclosed an alarming state of affairs, including damage to old, stationary dunes by the destruction of their vegetation, resulting in the inland drift of large volumes of sand. In Drift sands at Port Nolloth (1894) he recommended a scheme for reclaiming a small denuded area. That same year he published a paper on "Sand-stay grasses: Marram grass: Ammophila arundinacea." in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape Colony (Vol. 15, pp. 342-343). In 1895 he was appointed (initially in an acting capacity) as conservator of the Midlands Conservancy, with headquarters at Knysna. His staff of more than twenty included H.G. Fourcade* as demarcation officer.
Three years later, in May 1898, Heywood was transferred to Umtata in the Transkei Conservancy as acting conservator, and from April 1899 as conservator, succeeding C.C. Henkel*. The next year he became in addition a justice of the peace for the territory. He quickly perceived that in order to protect the forests from over-exploitation by the local population he had to meet their wood requirements from some other source. He therefore initiated the policy of establishing wattle plantations throughout the territory to provide easily accessible wood for cooking and hut building. In July 1907 he was transferred to King William's Town as conservator of the Eastern Conservancy, and from February to April 1908 was seconded for forest service to the government of Basutoland (now Lesotho). This led to his Report on Forestry in Basutoland to Government Secretary, Maseru (1908). In October 1910, following the formation of the Union of South Africa, he was appointed first grade conservator of forests for Natal and stationed in Pietermaritzburg.
Heywood was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science from 1903. He died a few years after retiring to Stellenbosch in 1914.