South West woodlands carry the torch for best practice
RFS Excellence in Forestry Awards have been presented to woodland owners from across the South West who are torch bearers for good practice everywhere, say judges in the Royal Forestry Society’s Excellence Awards.
The judges recorded some “outstanding examples” of good management with category winners ranging from traditional large estates and individual owners to a Town Council and a Friends Group, across Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
The RFS Excellence Awards, supported by the Forestry Commission, are the premier forestry awards across England and Wales, and move around the country on a seven-year rotation. There are four woodland categories and an additional challenge trophy – the Sylva Cup – to recognise an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to woodlands or the understanding of woodlands.
The awards were presented at a special event at the Forestry Commission national arboretum at Westonbirt. They are:
- Duke of Cornwall Award for Multipurpose Woodlands
- Sponsors: John Clegg & co
1st: Combe Sydenham Country Park, Monksilver Taunton.
2nd: The Clinton Devon Estates, Heanton Woods Devon
- The RFS Silviculture Award
- Sponsors: Tubex
1st: Duchy of Cornwall woodlands, Liskeard, Cornwall
2nd: Miserden Estate, Stroud, Gloucestershire
- Small Woodlands Awards
- Sponsor woodlands.co.uk
1st: Coombeshead Farm, Launceston, Cornwall
2nd: Classic Canes, Warren House, Crewkerne, Somerset
Commended: Russells Farm, Cullompton, Devon
Commended: Horry Mill, Hollocombe, Devon
1st: The Friends of Oakfrith Wood, Devizes, Wilshire
2nd: Neroche Partnership, Taunton, Somerset
Commended: Broadford Arboretum, Newent Town Council, Gloucestershire
John Greenshields, Park Farm, Wellington, Somerset, for his passion and inspiration to others in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon.
Tim Sawyer, former Forestry Commission Operations Manager for South and West England, who, with Chris Marrow, former FC Peninsula Forest District Manager, formed the judging team, said:
“There was strong competition across all categories, and particularly amongst Community Woodlands, which perhaps underlines the importance of woodlands in our society today.
“The forestry industry faces a tough challenge persuading the public that management practices such as coppicing, thinning and cutting down trees, and managing squirrels and deer, can be good for woodlands, but our winners demonstrate just how much can be achieved when appropriate techniques are used well.”
RFS President Nick Halsey says:
“After many years in the doldrums, our industry has revived with great enthusiasm, embracing the new challenges of biodiversity and enhancement of natural habitats, community and schools’ involvement, carbon capture and climate change.
“Of crucial importance to profitable timber production has been the growth of the firewood and biomass markets, which is helping to encourage new entrants into woodland management.
“Our winners give everyone a target to aspire to and I hope their success will prove an inspiration. My hearty congratulations to them and thanks to everybody who entered, which in itself involves a good deal of extra time and energy. I would like, too, to offer my special thanks to the Organisers and Judges.”
The RFS Excellence Awards include a schools category. This year’s winners are:
- 1st – Free Rangers, Midsomer Norton
- 2nd – Okehampton Primary
- Special Commendation – John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge
In 2013 the competition will visit the North West and the West Midlands covering Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.