All over the country, woodland owners and managers are achieving amazing things – and FSC UK is delighted to work with the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) to recognise and celebrate those achievements.
The RFS Excellence in Forestry Awards are held annually in a different region of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and this year covered London, Southern and South East England. For the fourth year running, FSC UK Forest Standards Manager Dr Owen Davies helped to judge three of the categories; the Duke of Cornwall’s Award for Resilient Multi-Purpose Forestry, the Award for Excellence in Silviculture, and the Small and Farm Woodlands Award.
“Every year it is a pleasure and a privilege to be involved in the Excellence in Forestry Awards,” says Owen. “Over the last four years, as the Awards have moved from region to region, I have visited every corner of England, meeting extraordinary people and seeing first hand the fruits of their labours in managing a really diverse range of woodlands. This year was particularly interesting, as south-east England is little known to me, and some of the woods are very different to those I’m most familiar with in north Wales; it was great to see large scale coppicing, particularly of Hornbeam, for instance.”
For the first time this year, FSC UK is also directly sponsoring the Small and Farm Woodlands Award.
“Our sponsorship is great news,” says Owen. “I’m standing down as a judge this year, so it’s great that FSC UK will remain involved in the Excellence in Forestry Awards in this way. Small and Farm Woodlands is by far my favourite category, for the sheer variety of woods and their truly inspirational owners.”
This year in the Small and Farm Woodlands category, a certificate of merit was awarded to Beaton’s Wood in East Sussex, owned and managed by John McCutchan. By charging an entry fee to visitors to this beautiful bluebell wood, John has not only made the woodland financially self-sustaining but, since 1972, has raised over £1 million for 74 charities.
Second prize was awarded to Great Groves Wood in Hertfordshire, managed by three generations of the Dixon family. This genuinely multi-functional wood is highly productive and full of life, but has become particularly important for education, and is now used for bushcraft courses and children’s activity days, and by small groups of special-needs children and adults.
Finally, first prize went to Lot 3 Wood, owned by Riki Therivel (pictured, above, receiving her prize from Dr Owen Davies). It’s a bland name for an extraordinary wood! Riki bought the property a mere 16 years ago as an arable field just outside Oxford. It already feels like a proper woodland and is delivering a remarkable range of benefits. Thinning is managed in a novel way by letting woodfuel allotments to local people. Neighbours and staff from local businesses walk and lunch in the wood, enjoying views of the dreaming spires of Oxford from the rides and glades. Wildlife is burgeoning, and the wood is used by pupils of a local school for severely disadvantaged children. All in all, an inspiring example of what one woman can achieve.
Taken together, these winning entries show that, even in the smallest of woods, it is possible to achieve FSC’s vision of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable woodland management.
You can read about the winners of the other categories, and about the winners from previous years, on the Excellence in Forestry webpages.
This year’s awards ceremony, kindly hosted by the Crown Estate at Windsor Great Park, was a wonderful celebration of success – our congratulations to all of the winners!
In 2020, the Awards will be held across Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Keep an eye on the RFS website for details.