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Forester Steve collects Morley Penistan Award
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Steve Russell, centre, receive the award from Professor Christopher Gaskell, the principal of the College, with RFS Gloucestershire Division chairman Torill Freeman (right)

Date Issued: 14 November 2012


The winner of this year’s Royal Forestry Society (RFS) Gloucestershire Division Morley Penistan Award, Steve Russell, is a familiar face to many involved in woodland and tree management. He has won the award after returning to education 25 years after gaining his first forestry qualifications.

An active member of the RFS, Steve has served on the national committee and has been Southern Division Secretary since 2006. He is also a ConFor (formally APF) regional committee member and a member and former secretary of the Wessex Silvicultural Group (formed in 1963 by a group of foresters including the noted Gloucestershire forester Morley Penistan).

The Award is presented annually in memory of Morley Penistan by the RFS’s Gloucestershire Division to the most outstanding student in the Forest and Woodland Management elective module at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester.

Steve originally studied forestry at Newton Rigg, Cumbria, 1980–83. He then worked in various forestry management roles for Merseyside County Council, Castle Point District Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Wiltshire Council before setting up Woodland & Countryside Management Ltd in 2010 to help landowners make the most of their land.

Twenty-five years after studying at Newton Rigg, Steve returned to education as a part-time student studying Rural Environmental Management at Bath University before moving to the Royal Agricultural College in 2009 to study Countryside Management ,which he completed this year with a first class honours degree.

Steve, who lives in Westbury, Wiltshire, says: “The future is one of developing the business and using my knowledge and experience to promote sustainable woodland and countryside management.

“I have also started part-time lecturing to encourage new students to engage with forestry, which is a constantly changing environment, with new ideas and skills being introduced and increasing challenges to be faced from climate change and the risk of new diseases and pests. Returning to study later in life means I have the benefit of the latest thinking to add to my many years’ experience, all of which enables me to offer clients a range of woodland management and creation services.”

The prize was presented at the Royal Agricultural College awards day. Tutor and fellow RFS member David Lewis said: “Steve’s prior knowledge and experience undoubtedly gave him a big head start, but one which he used very positively. Not only did he contribute fully to class discussions and field trips which helped benefit his fellow students, but also he was receptive to new ideas and approaches – an ideal student!”