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RFS Forestry Skills Study

Study to establish what skills are needed for the future of forestry

The Royal Forestry Society on behalf of the Forestry Skills Forum has appointed RDI Associates Ltd to undertake a sector skills study that will help to identify the skills gaps and shortages, training provision and future needs of the forestry industry in England and Wales.

The study will take place over the coming months and will focus on the forest establishment, management and harvesting sub-sectors to provide an evidence base that will allow a skills action plan to be developed.

Funding and in-kind support for the study has been provided by the Royal Forestry Society, Forestry Commission England, Woodland Heritage, the Scottish Forestry Trust and the National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria.

RDI Associates will be liaising with Higher and Further Education institutions, undertaking desk top research and conducting a new survey over the summer which will focus on interviews with employers and industry stakeholders.

“A key priority for the forestry sector is to achieve continued growth and the increase in active management of existing woodlands; this requires a workforce that is skilled and responsive to future opportunities and demands for the forestry sector," said RFS Education Manager, Ted Wilson.

“Statistical and anecdotal evidence suggests that the forestry sector is not recruiting enough new entrants to replace the increasing number of employees approaching retirement age. We are concerned that an emerging skills shortage may limit the growth potential of the forestry sector. We are delighted that RDI Associates will be working with us to establish the extent of this shortfall and point the way forward for employers and education providers”.

RDI Associates Ltd has brought together a team of experts to tackle this challenging study, who between them have a hundred years’ experience working in the forestry sector across a wide range of disciplines and with a broad geographic spread.

“The team undertaking the skills survey has extensive experience of engaging with forest owners, managers and contractors in an industry that is characterised by its micro- and small businesses”, said RDIA’s Director, Will Richardson. “Our extensive experience of analysing the needs of forestry businesses and translating the evidence gathered into strategic documents will help get to the bottom of potential barriers to employment in the sector such as pay and conditions, the attractiveness of the jobs and whether there are recognised career opportunities and progression pathways”.

The study will focus on the forest establishment, management and harvesting sub-sectors and will involve liaison with both Higher and Further Education institutions. The results of the study are expected to be announced before the end of the year.

Editors’ Notes:

The purpose of the Forestry Skills Forum is to:

• agree collective, collaborative and individual actions across industry and other organisations on priority skills issues

• share information

• provide a unified voice for advocating and promoting education, learning and development in forestry

Activity will focus on:

• Improving/promoting the image of the sector, providing information and attracting new talent
• Workforce development
• Labour Market Intelligence
• Further/Higher Educational provision

The group’s objective is to be a collective voice across the sector on skills:

• Supporting the development and delivery of a Skills Action Plan, and the Actions within it
• Challenging and encouraging industry to take the lead with the skills agenda
• Identifying gaps and duplications in provision, and taking actions to address them
• Informing and influencing on skills issues including qualification development and professional/educational interaction
• Making representations on education, learning and development issues on behalf of the sector e.g. at APF, and holding Grown in Britain Week events
• Communication, liaison and where appropriate joint working with Scotland and Wales, reflecting the ‘borderless’ nature of the forestry industry

Royal Forestry Society

1. The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is the largest and longest established educational charity promoting the wise management of trees and woods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
2. For information go to www.rfs.org.uk. Follow us: Twitter: @royal_forestry, Facebook: Royal Forestry Society – RFS, Linked- In: Royal Forestry Society

Additional contacts:

Guy Marshall, Woodland Heritage, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Tel 07816-384221

Mark Tomlinson, National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel 015394 30622

Will Richardson, RDI Associates: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Tel 01765 609355.

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Press Release - June 2017

Top Suffolk forester Winner of the 2017 Peter Savill Award

Four decades of significant contribution to the benefit of the British Forestry Industry has been recognised by a national charity. During its annual Field Weekend in June, Woodland Heritage was delighted to present Suffolk County Council’s Woodland Advisor, Gary Battell, with its Peter Savill Award, only the eleventh time such an accolade has been given.

The criteria for the Peter Savill Award are that the contribution to forestry made by the individual selected annually by the trustees of Woodland Heritage must be in sympathy with the charity’s objectives and in one of five areas of forestry: silviculture, marketing, education, wood processing and research.

At the Woodland Heritage Trustees’ December meeting then Chairman and Co-Founder, Peter Goodwin’s, nomination was read out: “True passion can engage and inspire action. Gary Battell certainly is passionate about trees, the wildlife they support and the bluebells they shelter. I commend Gary’s nomination for the 2017 Peter Savill Award”.

Speaking at the presentation, Managing Trustee and Co-Founder, Lewis Scott said: “In recognition of Gary’s contribution to forestry through the giving of his time selflessly in the cause of tree health, woodland management, woodworking and education, Woodland Heritage Trustees were unanimous in awarding him their prestigious Peter Savill Award and his name is added to a growing list of greats within the industry”.

Gary’s love of trees originated in his time as a Boy Scout whilst living in a children’s home for the first fourteen years of his life. He has worked in woodland and park management since 1975 including posts with the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and, since 1998, as Woodland Advisor to Suffolk County Council.

He was a founding member of the Ancient Tree Forum, sits on the Regional Committee of the Royal Geographical Society and the Committee of the Royal Forestry Society’s East Anglian Division.

His enduring friendship with the late Dr Oliver Rackham brought him additional landscape history and ecology knowledge which he now passes on to a wide audience. He is a valued adviser to numerous organisations as well as helping individuals to get into forestry or set up their own businesses.

During such spare time as he has, Gary supports the management of Staverton Park, with its 4,000 magnificent Oaks in an ancient deer park. In the nearby small Woodland Heritage tree nursery he raises acorns to supplement the site with young Oaks.

Since his attendance at Forest Research’s inaugural meeting to discuss what Dr Sandra Denman had just named “Acute Oak Decline” (AOD) he has been closely involved in the work at Alice Holt earning huge respect and appreciation. He continues to play a leading practical role in the filming of the AOD research film.

Editor’s Notes:

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.

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Press Release - June 2017

Stunning addition to popular trail in Dunkeld unveiled

A memorial bench with a twist has been unveiled on the banks of the River Tay at Dunkeld to remember Sydney Draper, a former forester to the World Bank who died in July 2015 aged 90.

The new bench in the grounds of Dunkeld House Hotel was commissioned by Woodland Heritage to commemorate Mr Draper, a long-standing supporter of the charity. It has been carefully crafted to appear as though it is twisted and made of several different sections of timber, whereas it has actually been crafted from a single piece of native oak by localartist Nigel Ross.

Mr Ross’s creations may be found throughout the UK, from London’s Canary Wharf to the Ness Islands in Inverness.

It was through Mr Draper’s generous support of Woodland Heritage that the charity was able to support the renovation of Dunkeld’s ‘Big Tree Trail’ in partnership with the National Tree Collections of Scotland and the Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust. Woodland Heritage Trustees felt it was a fitting memorial to Mr Draper to commission the new piece by Nigel Ross to sit on the banks of the Tay at Dunkeld.

Tom Christian, a Trustee of Woodland Heritage, said:

“Sydney loved Dunkeld and returned here on his 90th birthday to plant a commemorative tree. Environmental education was very important to him, which is why he made his generous gift to help support the costs of a new tree trail here at Dunkeld, to tell visitors the amazing stories of the trees around us, the landscape they sit in, and how vital trees and healthy forests are to life on earth.

We are enormously grateful to Sydney, and to Dunkeld House Hotel and Land Rover Experience Scotland for their help in making this fitting memorial possible”.

Visitors to Dunkeld will now be able to sit and rest a while, courtesy of Sydney Draper, as they enjoy the idyllic riverside walks by the Tay.

Editors Notes:

1. Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.

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Peter Goodwin

It is with much sadness that we report Peter passed away on 18 March. Peter was the Chair of Woodland Heritage, the ex-Director of long standing and highly respected family firm of cabinet furniture makers Titchmarsh and Goodwin, and a champion of British timber.

In 1994, Peter felt it was time to “give something back to the forestry sector”, to try and help safeguard British woodlands for future generations and future furniture makers.  To further his vision he co-founded Woodland Heritage – a charity that works to revive and embrace our woodland culture.  As Chairman of Woodland Heritage, Peter worked tirelessly for over 23 years, securing its founding, the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales and inspired its numerous activities. Through Peter's endless personal enthusiasm and passion, the charity developed its highly successful 'Woodland to Workshop' courses, communicated the importance of woodland management at numerous field visits and raised awareness across the sector and within Government of the threats to British woodlands. Peter was able, combining his charm and diplomacy with his business acumen, to secure over £2 million for research into Acute Oak Decline. In 2011 he was awarded the Royal Forestry Society’s (RFS) most prestigious award, the RFS Gold Medal for Distinguished Services to Forestry.

Peter was enthusiastic and thrived on getting things done – the embodiment – and originator of - Woodland Heritage’s mantra of 'Action not Words'. He was outspoken in his views and was never afraid to highlight what he felt needed doing - and what did not – and revelled in being direct in his views. There are many people who will recall Peter’s jocular yet challenging chairing of Woodland Heritage’s field meetings – and when Peter was holding the microphone there was always going to be a series of interesting asides, challenges to conventional thought as well as encyclopaedic attention to detail and knowledge. Peter was always willing to say what many others thought, but were not confident in doing so, but Peter always spoke with great conviction, fairness and a steely glint in his eye. He was also a great company, a passionate communicator and time spent in his company was always richly rewarding. He was great fun to be with. Peter was an inspiration to all that met him and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Our sincerest condolences go to Peter’s wife, Sally, and his family.

 

A celebration of Peter's life will take place at Sotterley Hall, Sotterley, Beccles, Suffolk. NR34 7TY on Monday 3rd April at 2.00 pm. 

The family have requested - no flowers please, but donations, if desired, to Woodland Heritage.

 

If you would like to make a donation and are able to Gift Aid it then please use the attached form here.

For any queries or further information please use the contact details below;

Woodland Heritage, PO Box 168, Haslemere, Surrey. GU27 1XQ.

Tel: 01428 652159 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Press Release - January 2017

Course in Continuous Cover Forest Management returns this spring

The popular and extremely well received course, ‘Irregular Silviculture in the Lowlands: Transformation in Practice’, is to be run again on 2nd and 3rd May 2017 by SelectFor. Based in Stourhead, south Wiltshire, the site visits will return to the fine examples of irregular coniferous and broadleaved stands at Stourhead (Western) Estate and the Rushmore Estate, and will look in detail at the silviculture of transformation and the monitoring of stand structure and performance, with the emphasis on lowland forests. The course will be led by Andy Poore and David Pengelly, both leading exponents of Continuous Cover Forest Management.

“May’s course will be our ninth and it is really encouraging that Irregular Forest Management remains a topic that is generating interest in our industry, both in the UK and further afield”, said Andy Poore. “Some leading forestry organisations have sent multiple delegates to our courses, an encouraging trend that seems to be continuing and which gives real belief that Irregular Silviculture is becoming more understood and applied”.

Each of the courses can accommodate 14 trainees with six of those attending the last course in October supported financially by Woodland Heritage. The national woodland charity is happy to consider bursaries for the fee of £408 (including VAT) on a case by case basis for the course in May, with applications to be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Friday, 17th March 2017.

“I really benefitted from attending October’s course and am grateful to Andy Poore and David Pengelly for including me in that course’s cohort as an observer”, said Woodland Heritage’s Development Director, Guy Corbett-Marshall. “The presentations and handouts, when added to the content of the site visits, made an unfamiliar discipline like Irregular Silviculture really accessible for me”.

An important element of the two-day course is the marking exercise in which the trainees, in groups of two, undertake the marking decision process for themselves within a 1ha stand under transformation and interact with two experienced practitioners. On completion of the marking exercise, the trees selected for removal by each group are inputted into a spreadsheet which provides a detailed summary of the silvicultural and economic consequences of each marking; the data is then compared between each pair.

For further information on May’s course visit www.selectfor.com.

Editor’s Notes

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.

SelectFor offers specialist continuous cover consultancy and training services. SelectFor brings together the experience and knowledge of 4 leading practitioners in continuous cover forest management. SelectFor promotes, instigates and contributes to research in various aspects of continuous cover forest management.

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Press Release - November 2016

Woodland Heritage backs digitisation of Oliver Rackham’s notebooks

A grant of £225 from Woodland Heritage is enabling the digitisation of five of Professor Oliver Rackham’s field notebooks that recorded his observations of Staverton Park in Suffolk. Listed by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts as 'primeval woodland', the site was described as 'a famous and awesome place of Tolkienesque wonder and beauty' in 1986. Today, it is a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It has an awesome woodland of ancient oak and birch, and part of the site has holly trees reputed to be the largest in the UK.

Woodland Heritage, through its grant, will be supporting the project to digitise and display online the notebooks Professor Rackham kept during his life, and which are now incorporated into the college archive. There are some 1146 of these notebooks, kept by Rackham from his youth up until his death in February 2015, and the total cost of making them all accessible would exceed £40,000. At present the college is aiming to make accessible a selection of the total, adding to the number that are digitised over the years.

“Thanks to Woodland Heritage, to the Friends of Oliver Rackham and to many other supporters, great progress is being made to make accessible to all the incredible legacy of field observations that Professor Rackham made over almost six decades”, said Dr Lucy Hughes, Archivist at Corpus Christi College. “However, there are an additional 642 red notebooks and about 250 blue notebooks left to digitise, so if anyone is interested in a particular place, region, or period of Oliver’s research, we can help pick out the notebooks to sponsor, with priorities at present including Hatfield Forest and Buff Wood, Cambridgeshire. All sponsorships will be acknowledged on the Cambridge Digital Library’s website.”

The red notebooks form a chronological sequence and record observations on plants seen on Professor Rackham’s travels as well as in his home surroundings, together with other kinds of information, for example about weather and college duties. They are paginated continuously and include some sketches. A label on the outside usually lists the locations covered in each notebook, with page numbering, thus serving as a kind of contents page.

The blue notebooks are more location-specific than the red ones. They are divided into separate sub-groups according to location, with an abbreviated key on the spine. Within each sub-group (for example the Hayley Wood books) pagination is continuous from notebook to notebook. They tend to contain more raw data than the red notebooks, for example tally charts showing frequency of plant species in particular areas of woodland, with photocopied maps of woodland areas often pasted in. Although sequence is roughly chronological, information is entered in a more content-led fashion than in the red notebooks.

“Woodland Heritage is delighted to sponsor the digitisation of the Rackham notebooks that cover Staverton Park”, said the charity’s Development Director, Guy Corbett-Marshall. “The work he did on Staverton Park was very important and it was fortuitous that those notebooks should have been chosen for digitisation in the next batch, making our grant offer very timely.”

For further information about sponsoring a Rackham notebook(s), please contact Dr Lucy Hughes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Editor’s Notes

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.

Born in Bungay, Suffolk, in 1939, Oliver Rackham was educated at Norwich School, matriculated at Corpus Christi College in 1957, and was elected Fellow of the college in 1964. Although he began by studying physics, as a graduate student he turned his attention to botany, particularly the physiology of plant growth and transpiration. This became the subject of his thesis. From 1972 onwards he concentrated on historical ecology, especially the history of woodland and the landscape in England and Wales. He wrote prolifically on this, both in specialist journals, as well as for the general reader, and through a series of important books.

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Press Release - September 2016

Chris Wiseman scoops ‘Best use of British Timber Award’ at Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design 2016

Chris Wiseman with his remarkable piece called ‘Oak Within’ became the latest winner of ‘The Best Use of British Timber Award’ sponsored by Woodland Heritage at last month’s Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design exhibition in Cheltenham. Now in its 22nd year, Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design is recognised as the UK’s largest annual exhibition of contemporary designer-maker furniture.

The first prize of £500 was awarded to Wiseman for his demonstration of the best use of British timber, whilst Robert Scott and his ‘Aeolian’ console table received a Highly Commended prize and a cheque for £250; unusually a third award of £200 was also given to Paul Jaques for his most imaginative use of small offcuts to create a most stunning ‘Walnut Poem’ coffee table.

“Woodland Heritage is proud to recognise each year at the Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design, exhibits that in our view maximise the economic and environmental value of trees and promote wood as a renewable natural resource”, said Peter Goodwin, Chairman of trustees and co-founder of Woodland Heritage. “We are a unique environmental charity, which truly unites all tree people – a vehicle for wood users to ‘put something back’ and contribute to the proper management of British trees.”

“Using British timber encourages the sustainable and economic value of our woodlands, as well as supporting the wood chain. Well-managed, healthy woodlands can also provide an environment that supports wildlife, flora and fauna, whilst ensuring traditional woodland skills are not lost”, continued Mr Goodwin.

In determining who should be the recipients of this year’s awards, marks were given for design, species selection, use of timber, craftsmanship and provenance of the wood used; points were also given to entrants who provided proof that they had gone out of their way to source timber locally and/or find out where their timber came from.

Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design director, Jason Heap was delighted with this year’s winners: “Once again the Woodland Heritage judges were spoilt for choice and quality. With this in mind, it is a fantastic achievement for Chris Wiseman, a student who has just completed his training, to have produced such a wonderful winning piece from beautiful British sycamore and oak. Robert Scott, also a young maker, and Paul Jaques artistic works demonstrate the beautiful potential that lies hidden within our native timber, waiting for a craftsman or woman to maximise it.”

Editor’s Notes

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.

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