EiF Multipurpose Award
Duke of Cornwall Multipurpose Woodlands Award Winners 2012
This Award recognises how woodlands can be managed in a way that is sympathetic to the landscape, conserving and enhancing the wildlife value for both the short- and long-term, while remaining consistent with the primary purpose of sustainable timber production.
- 1st prize: Combe Sydenham Country Park, Monksilver, Taunton
John Clegg, left, presents the RFS Excellence in Forestry Duke of Cornwall Award to William Theed from Combe Sydenham Country Park, Monksilver, Taunton.
The judges commented: “The range of uses fitted into a relatively compact area is truly impressive.”
The owner, William Theed advocates that “forestry should be fun” and has managed to pack a huge amount into 130 hectares of woodlands, mainly commercial conifers, centred on Combe Sydenham and extending across deep valleys.
There is a successful partnership with a woodfuel business on the estate to make use of non-commercial timber and thinnings; the main house is heated by a woodchip boiler and a sawmill is being commissioned to add value to commercial timber.
There is extensive public access and a wide range of forest education activities. The woodland is a venue for a commercial shoot, downhill mountain biking (it hosted this year’s England Mountain Biking Championships), an off-road driver training track, and encourages other sports such as motorcycle enduros, archery and cross-country running.
The site can trace its history back to a monastic site mentioned in the Domesday book. Woodland biodiversity includes a number of endangered species managed under a Natural England Higher Level Scheme, and a programme of boundary restoration is enhancing a series of part derelict traditional Exmoor hedgebanks.
Owner William Theed says: “The woodlands are incredibly important to the estate. I am delighted that so many different people can use the woodlands in so many different ways, all benefiting from the trees which are, in the longer term, being grown to provide a high-value timber crop.”
- 2nd prize: Clinton Devon Estates, Heanton Woods, Devon
John Clegg, left, presents the RFS Excellence in Forestry Duke of Cornwall Multipurpose Award, silver, to John Wilding, Head of Forestry and the Environment for Clinton Devon Estates’ Heanton Wood.
The judges commented: “Throughout all the activities on site, estate manager John Wilding continues to actively drive his well-considered and productive thinning programme as well as pro-actively felling larch ahead of Phytophthora infection.”
The Heanton Woods cover 950 hectares between Bideford and Okehampton with the River Torridge and its steep-sided valley running through the centre of the Estate. Species are predominantly commercial conifers with some areas of old oak plantations on ancient woodland sites, including Hunshaw Wood SSSI.
Since 1997, management has focused on increasing the area and value under Douglas fir with a lengthening of rotation to 80 years to maximise large log production. Timber customers include local, regional, national and international markets.
New pests and disease are a current focus for the management team after Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum) was found in an outlying block in May 2009 and spruce bark beetle (Dendroctanus micans) in April 2010.
Permissive access within the Heanton Woods includes car parking and a way-marked route – part of the round Torrington path and links the County Council’s Tarka Trail. Other activities include hunting, classic motor trials, endurance horse riding and sponsored walks and rides. The Estate also operates a commercial shoot within the Torridge Valley.
John Wilding, Head of Forestry and the Environment for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “In so many ways Heanton is a traditional estate, so it is very pleasing to have achieved this level of recognition for our multi-purpose woodlands which are thriving as a result of continued thinning and careful management. In the face of dealing with the ongoing challenges of new pests and diseases, we have been able to produce high-quality timber as well as providing areas of important public recreation space.”