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Duke of Cornwall Award 2018 for Resilient Multi-purpose Forestry

The purpose of this Award is to recognise woods that are managed for ecological and economic resilience to threats such as pests, disease and climate change in order to meet commercial, environmental and/or social objectives

Gold: Aconbury Wood and Wallsbrook Wood, Herefordshire, owned by Duchy of Cornwall

Silver: Witham Park, Maiden Bradley Estate owned by the Duke of Somerset

Certificate of Merit: Moor Wood and Woodcombe near Minehead and owned by Exmoor National Park

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Aconbury Wood and Wallbrooks Wood – judge Christine Cahalan and Duchy of Cornwall Forester Ed Clark discussing species choice Pic Credit RFS/Owen Davies 

 
Graham Taylor, centre, receives the award for the Duchy of Cornwall with, from the left, RFS President Andrew Woods, Mark Liebrecht from Savills, William Massey from TreesPlease and architect/presenter Piers Taylor. Pic Credit: RFS/Brian Martin

Gold: Aconbury Wood and Wallsbrook Wood, Herefordshire, owned by Duchy of Cornwall

Awarded for “exceptional multi-purpose management, and for positive management to withstand environmental change, particularly in terms of species and provenance choice.”

The 138ha of Aconbury Wood and the adjoining Wallbrooks Wood south of Hereford and are actively managed woodlands, with harvesting operations carried out during most years.

To develop resilience, management aims at creating diversity in terms of species, age-class, and structure. Oak, ash and sweet chestnut are the dominant broadleaves but many other broadleaved species are represented. There are also significant components of Douglas fir, Norway spruce, European larch and western hemlock. In recent years, some stands have been under-planted with beech, hornbeam, hazel and European silver fir.

The woods contains a number of oak, ash and sweet chestnut ‘Plus Trees’ which have been included in the breeding programmes coordinated by the Future Trees Trust. Provenance of planting material is diverse with stock from good quality selected seed stands in England and Wales preferred alongside plants grown locally from acorns and sweet chestnuts collected on the estate. All planting stock is UK-grown but some improved seed sources from France and Germany have also been used.

There are areas of ASNW and PAWS which are managed sensitively and the Duchy is working with Butterfly Conservation to improve habitat for the wood white butterfly; there is permissive access in Aconbury Wood.


 

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Witham Park, Maiden Bradley Estate: showing mixed restocking of areas felled in response to Phytophthora. 

Her Grace, the Duchess of Somerset, and Ben Juckes, centre, receive the award with, from the left, RFS President Andrew Woods, Mark Liebrecht from Savills, William Massey from TreesPlease and architect/presenter Piers Taylor. Pic Credit RFS/BrianMartin 

Silver: Witham Park, Maiden Bradley Estate owned by the Duke of Somerset

Judges praising it for “exceptional positive management to withstand environmental change, exemplified by the manager’s thoughtful approach to adaptive silviculture.”

Maiden Bradley Estate woods generate both annual income as well as long term capital growth from timber. Situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and including a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the woods are also an important component of the Estate’s Heritage Plan via their contribution to wildlife and local natural beauty.

On resilience, Witham Park employs a range of risk‐management techniques,

  • Reduction in the size of single species sub‐compartments and an increase in the range of species
  • Increased use of novel commercial species and mixtures
  • Novel planting techniques and maintenance strategies
  • Increased structural and species diversity in Ancient Semi Natural Woodland
  • Management of drainage to making commercial stands and reduce risk of downstream flooding
  • Adaptive silviculture: increasing responsivity to subtle changes in climate in the coming decades

 

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 Conifer regeneration at Moor Wood Robin Offer, centre, receive the award with, from the left, RFS President Andrew Woods, Mark Liebrecht from Savills, William Massey from TreesPlease and architect/presenter Piers Taylor. Pic Credit: RFS/BrianMartin 

 Certificate of Merit: Moor Wood and Woodcombe near Minehead and owned by Exmoor National Park

Judges praised them for “outstanding work to promote social resilience.”

Moor Wood is a mixed plantation valued for amenity, landscape and access and well used by residents and visitors. There are also important archaeological features including a WW2 tank range. 

Areas were damaged by 1990 storms and replanted with broadleaves and conifer. In 2010 larch was felled as a preventative measure against Phytophthora releasing areas for restocking. The result is a diverse broadleaf – conifer mix with a wide age range spanning 150 years.

Sitka has been felled due to Dendroctonus, horse chestnut is failing due to leaf miner and bleeding canker, ash and sweet chestnut are threatened by disease. In 2014 a CCF plan was adopted following the methodology promoted by Forest Research and coupled with the ESC analysis to find the most appropriate response to increase resilience in line with management objectives. Priority species revealed through the ESC are regenerating well (Sequoia and Tilia has been planted)

Woodcombe also part of the North Hill Estate is ASNW and part SSSI. It is leased to a local Community Woodland Group who manage it with support from Exmoor National Park. A main objective is to allow the group to develop skills and knowledge to become largely self-reliant.

A key activity is the production of seasoned logs offered at a discounted rate to households in fuel poverty. Any surplus is recycled back into the project to support the group and develop skills.

 

Our thanks to 2018 sponsors Savills and Trees Please

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