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2013 - Winners

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The RFS Excellence in Forestry Awards together make the country’s premier forestry competition and are held on a seven-year rotation around England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In 2013, for the first time, there will be five woodland categories, following the introduction of an urban forestry category. The competition also continues to award the challenge trophy – the Sylva Cup – to recognise an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to woodlands or the understanding of woodlands.

In 2013 the Awards will focus on woodland and tree schemes across the North West and the West Midlands covering Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.

For photographs and details of winners in 2013, please follow the links below:



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About the judges - Judges for 2013:


Tim Sawyer – Tim attended Gwydyr Forester Training School from 1962–64 and later gained the National Diploma in Forestry and the Diploma in Management Studies. He spent his career with the Forestry Commission, apart from a two-year secondment to the government of Jamaica. He was a member of the FC's Work Study Branch, Head Training Forester for South and West England, Forest District Manager for the Marches Forest District and then Regional Operations Manager when Southwest and Southeast England merged. Tim retired in 1998 and now lives in Salisbury, spending some time each year in Australia.

Trefor Thompson – Trefor graduated in Forestry at Bangor University in 1974 and joined Clwyd County Council as Forestry Officer later that year. He became Principal Forestry Officer in 1985 and transferred to the new Denbighshire unitary authority as Principal Countryside Officer in 1996, remaining there until he retired in 2008. He was a member of the Board of the Welsh woodlands initiative – Coed Cymru – for many years and also served on the Wales Woodland Forum and its successor the Wales Woodland Strategy Advisory Panel. Trefor has been heavily involved with the development, creation and management of community woodland projects throughout his career. He lives near Ruthin in north Wales and is the Coordinator of the Royal Forestry Society’s Excellence in Forestry Competition.

Debbie Cotton – Debbie studied ecology at Manchester Metropolitan University and conservation at University College London, where she specialised in woodland community ecology and the conservation of fragmented woodland habitats. Debbie is a qualified forest school leader and has been leading forest school sessions near her home in Oxfordshire since 2009. She is the Education Officer for the RFS and works with schools, college students and adults to help improve knowledge of trees and woods nationwide. She is a member of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) and sits on the steering committee for the Forest Education Network.

Richard Pain – Richard studied environmental biology at Aberystwyth University, protected area management at the University of London and forestry at Aberdeen University. He has worked for educational organisations such as the Field Studies Council and the Natural History Museum. Richard managed an estate in Kent for a number of years before joining the Forestry Commission in 2009; firstly as SSSI Project Officer and then as Woodland Officer for the county of Oxfordshire where he now lives.

Rob Guest – Rob began working in forestry in Lincolnshire in his school holidays and went on to gain a forestry degree from Bangor University. He worked in forest management and research in New Zealand for twenty years, working in forest habitat from the coastal zone to high in the southern Alps. Rob returned to Britain where he took a post with Forestry Commission as Silviculture and Environment Manager for North and East England and then became Deputy Surveyor for the Forest of Dean, a position he held until he retired in 2010.

Les Starling – Les began working for the Forestry Commission in 1962; training initially in the Forest of Dean before going to the Gwydyr Forestry Training School (1964–66). After completing his training in the Forest of Dean he worked on Field Surveys based in Coleford for several years. He then transferred to South Wales for 12 years before serving his final 18 years as a Woodland Officer in North East Wales. Les retired in 2004 after 42 years with the Forestry Commission and still lives in North Wales. He is currently Vice-Chairman of the North Wales Wildlife Trust, Chair of Cofnod (the North Wales Local Record Centre) and is a committee member of North Wales FWAG Cymru and the North Wales Division of the RFS.