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Award for Northumberland forester in charge of a unique treescape
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Celebrations: Ian Fletcher, left, receives his award from the RFS President Elect Sir Jack Whitaker

Date Issued: 08 July 2013


A forester who has helped foster and maintain one of the most iconic treescapes in Northumberland has received a Long Service Award from the Royal Forestry Society (RFS). The award was presented to Ian Fletcher, head forester of the National Trust’s Cragside Estate, at a meeting of the RFS North East Division at Middleton Hall, near Wooler.

RFS President Elect Sir Jack Whitaker said: “It is a huge privilege to present this award to someone whose career has been dedicated to the wise management of trees and woods.

“Wise management is something which the RFS promotes across the country through the sharing of knowledge. Ian has been sharing his own knowledge as a chainsaw trainer for Lantra, in the north east, helping Northumberland foresters to work more safely, and he has been very involved in reducing the negative impacts of rhododendron, at Cragside.”

Ian, 63, has worked and lived on the National Trust Cragside Estate in Northumberland for  30 years, and has been their head forester since 1991. General Manager John O’Brien says: “Ian has been responsible for looking after the unique treescape at Cragside, which has matured since the Armstrong family’s original planting of 7 million trees and shrubs in the 19th century.

“The Armstrong’s legacy was an amazing achievement, creating a fantasy world of towering trees on what had been a bare and rugged Northumberland hillside. We consider the trees and landscape features as being every bit as important as the paintings and furnishings in the house. It seems rather fitting that we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Ian’s stewardship in the same year as we are observing the 150th anniversary of Cragside’s creation.

“Ian’s knowledge of the estate grounds has also proved invaluable in other ways. When the National Trust was trying to source sandstone cobbles for restoration work in the house courtyard, Ian raided his memory banks to identify the old quarries within the estate’s woodland where years earlier he had come across unfinished and discarded cobbles from the time when the house was being built. No better solution would have been possible to execute so perfect a restoration that visitors could not distinguish between the new and the old.”