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Duke of Cornwall Award for Resilient Woods



This award recognises woodlands that are managed to adapt to environmental change to meet commercial, environmental and/or social objectives. Environmental change includes pests, disease and the threat of climate change.

2016 awards winners were: Gold: Helmsley Estate, Duncombe Park, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, owned by the Rt Hon Jake Barnaby Duncombe; Silver: Warren and Lalbuss Woods, Ivegil, Cumbria, owned by Orlando Finzi and managed by Egger Forestry. Highly commended: Grimston Wood, near York, owned by Ralph Hoyle. More details below.

Gold: Helmsley Estate, Duncombe Park, near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, owned by the Rt Hon Jake Barnaby Duncombe

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Top: Receiving the Duke of Cornwall Award: Tim Tolliss, Forestry Manager with Lady Feversham. Left, Owen Davies (judge) and Simon Hart (Egger Forestry), right, John Clegg (John Clegg & Co)

Below: Tim Tolliss sharing his enthusiasm with judge Graham Heath

142 hectares of woodland on the Helmsley Estate woodlands at Duncombe Park were entered for the Duke of Cornwall Award. The Estate woodlands have been UKWAS Certified since 2000 and lie within the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

Forestry policy is to maintain a stable yield of timber within the restraints of the owner, Estate, National Park and in the case of Parkland woods, those of English Nature. Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) was adopted 15 years ago as a way of growing quality timber within an ever increasing environment of often conflicting interests. Forestry financial policy has always been to either yield a small profit or break even.

The Forest Resilience strategy for the estate is mindful of the present and future threats of tree pests and diseases arising from Climate Change and world trade. Larch is a major component of the estate's forest. Initially, with the arrival of phytopthera ramorum, the larch element was reduced in favour of naturally regenerating species such as ash. However, with the subsequent arrival of Chalara fraxinea, the estate has adopted a more comprehensive nine-point strategy which includes continuous monitoring of tree health, active harvesting programmes and a vigorous thinning programme.

What the judges said: "The judges were impressed by the intimate species mixtures, uneven-aged structures and low impact silviculture which spread economic risks, create diverse habitats and provide an attractive backdrop to recreational and educational activities on the estate. Regular interventions provide continuity of employment for tried and tested local contractors. Management planning is of a high standard, and monitoring of tree health and liaison with Forest Research are particularly impressive."

What the manager said: " I am very pleased to receive this award because as well as highlighting the importance of Forest Resilience it also recognises the contribution that forest managers and owners can make in ensuring that British Forests continue to thrive  against a background of Climate Change and  threats from pests and diseases.. It is true to say that every decision a forester makes today is influenced by the issues of forest resilience but the challenge for foresters is to be able to do this in such a way as to maintain our ability to supply the timber processing industry, an industry which itself is both resilient and dynamic.

Past and present owners of Duncombe Park Estate along with many forestry organisations has always supported a policy of actively managing woodlands. The results of this supports the conclusion reached by many foresters that a managed forest is one which is most likely to cope with the challenges that lie ahead, " Tim Tolliss MICFor.SocEnv, Forest Manager, Helmsley Estate, Duncombe Park.

Silver: Warren and Lalbuss Woods, Ivegil, Cumbria, owned by Orlando Finzi, and managed

by Egger Forestry

Warren and Lalbuss Woods lie between the Solway Basin and Eden Valley at 150 metres above sea.

Primary objectives are to:

  • manage the forest over a mid-long period in line with the UK Forest Standard, enabling a sustainable timber resource which maintains capital value.
  • maintain a diverse forest prepared for changes in climate and well-positioned to minimise the effects of pest and disease.
  • improve final crop value and maximise available opportunities in reducing restock costs through encouragement of establishment and/or development of natural regeneration.

Careful consideration has been given to a mix of thinning and regeneration interventions and clearfelling and restock operations to compensate for previous under management.

Restocking is diverse both in its species range and method, creating opportunities to encourage natural regeneration of both coniferous and broadleaf species in addition to enrichment planting of species known to do well on the site and trials of less common species.

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Receiving silver: David Robson, with, left, Simon Hart (Egger Foresty and Owen Davies and, right, John Clegg ( John Clegg & Co)

What the judges said: "Timber production and capital value are important drivers in these woodlands, and there has been significant investment in infrastructure. This has allowed the owner to bring the somewhat neglected stands of pine, larch and spruce into active management, and the woods are now generally well thinned and filled with thriving natural regeneration. Thinning promotes future crop trees and seed trees and, along with respacing of regeneration, is steering stands towards intimate mixtures of conifer and broadleaves.Management is of a very high standard and based on robust inventory data."

What the manager said: “Orlando and I are delighted to receive this award in recognition of the hard work, planning and attention to detail during operational work that we have carried out in the forest; the challenges presented in Warren and Lalbuss were typical of under-managed forest stands where no formal or planned intervention had taken place for many years.

 "Orlando’s investment in infrastructure alongside his long-term view has allowed us to consider and implement differing silvicultural techniques which are already showing promising results. With continued management I’m certain we will continue to achieve our objectives, adapt to changing circumstances and maintain an economic and sustainable forest resource which is well positioned to present quality timber to the marketplace," Dave Robson.

Highly commended: Grimston Wood, near York, owned by Ralph Hoyle.

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 Ralph Hoyle receives the Highly Commended award with, left, Simon Hart (Egger Forestry) and Owen Davies and, right, John Clegg (John Clegg & Co)

Grimston Wood (70 acres) was sprayed from the air in 1964 by the Forestry Commission to  clear the site of vegetation, and the following year they planted it with Western Hemlock, Corsican pine, and a small block of sycamore.

It was bought by the present owner in 1990 at which date it was in a state of neglect. At the second thinning and clearfell in 2001, full use was taken of the 20% allowance for open space. Advice to replant the site proved wrong as the flush of naturally regenerated birch swamped most of the planting tubes and "adaptive management techniques" were then adopted instead!

 As a result, in 2003 heather started to appear in abundance, sprouting from the original seed bank, triggering the start of a small lowland heathland restoration scheme, involving the acquisition of a few Longhorn cattle to graze bramble and bracken. Preference is now given to promoting the regenerated birch, which is thinned on a regular basis, the thinnings going to 12 different racecourses for jumps, and larger stems for firewood to a merchant who supplies nearby York. Hemlock regeneration was prolific, and rather than trying to eradicate it, since it grows so well on the site, good quality stems have been left among the birch, resulting in an unusual mixture.

 What the judges said: "Natural regeneration of both broadleaves and conifers, supplemented with planting, has been enthusiastically embraced, and markets for birch bundles have allowed prolific regeneration to be respaced economically. In addition to the general high standard of adaptive management, there is excellent conservation work to be seen, including restoration of lowland heathland and the creation of ponds, and an arboretum has been established containing a wide range of conifer and broadleaf species, which should be of considerable interest in future."

What the owners said: "I am thrilled that my project of restoring a coniferous woodland to a more diverse habitat has gained recognition from such a prestigious organisation as the Royal Forestry Society. It is certainly a great encouragement to press on to complete the transformation of the site... Much credit for this success must go to Nick Milner Silviculture Ltd. who demonstrated a thorough understanding of what was required, and were instrumental in its implementation, " Ralph Hoyle.

This award is sponsored by:

Egger 2 Jc Logo W Forestry Agents Whiteongreen High