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Whole Society Meeting 2019 - East Anglia Division

Many thanks to the East Anglia Division for hosting an excellent Whole Society Meeting. A write up of the event can be found in the July issue of QJF.

  • Dates - Monday 13th to Friday 17th May 2019
  • Hosts - East Anglia Division
  • Base Location - Sprowston Manor Hotel, Golf & Country Club, Wroxham Road, Norwich NR7 8RP 

 Wsm 2019 Cover Photo


The RFS Whole Society Meeting 2019 was hosted by the East Anglia Division from Monday 13 to Friday 17 May.  The Sprowston Manor Hotel, Golf & Country Club in Norwich was this year’s base.  Visits for each day included the Forestry Commission’s Thetford Forest, Sennowe Estate near Guist, Edward Brun’s Fulmodeston woods, Foskett Willows in Woodbridge, Woodbastwick Estate in the Norfolk Broads, and the Sotterley Estate near Beccles.  

The AGM took place on Wednesday 15 May and the Annual Dinner was held on Thursday 16 May at the Sprowston Manor Hotel. 

Please find below a summary of a wonderful week of forestry:

Monday 13 May - Thetford Forest, Suffolk

The first day consisted of a full day visit to the Forestry Commission woods at Thetford. We were guided by members of the Forestry Commission team around an area south of Grimes Graves, with discussions and debate regarding species choice, climate change, managing open habitats and continuous cover forestry (CCF).  A hot buffet lunch was provided at the High Lodge cafe in Thetford Forest.

Tuesday 14 May - Sennowe Park and Fulmodeston Wood, North Norfolk

The day was spent in two of Norfolk's best and most remarkable woods.  The morning was hosted by Tom Cook on the Sennowe Estate looking at oustanding continuous cover forestry within the historic setting of Sennowe Park.  Lunch was at the Pensthorpe Nature Park followed by the second woodland visit in the afternoon, hosted by Edward Brun in Fulmodeston Wood.  We saw exceptional hardwood and conifer mixed age management with highly impressive results.

Wednesday 15 May - Foskett Willow Works Ltd, Bromeswell & the Staverton Oaks, Wantisden

The morning visit was hosted by Guy Foskett of Foskett Willows, where we learned about the growing and processing of cricket bat willows for the cricket bat trade. There was interesting debate over the benefits that cricket bat willows bring to the environment.  After short onward journey for lunch and the AGM held in the barns at Wantisden Valley Farm we were hosted by Kate Baker and the Kemball Family – the majestic ancient pollard oaks of this medieval Staverton Oaks Park has quite rightly been classified for the uniqueness and rarity of the environment found at this very special place.  

Thursday 16th May – Woodbastwick Estate, The Norfolk Broads

Though most woodland types are represented on the Estate, approximately 1/3rd is made up of Wet Woodland, dominated by Alder (Alnus glutinosa) carr.  The day includes a fabulous tour and lunch onboard the "Southern Comfort" steamboat.  The WSM dinner took place this evening at Sprowston Manor Hotel.  Our after-dinner speaker was James Simpson, Director of Operations, Forestry & Land Management, Forest Enterprise England.

Friday 17th May – Sotterley Estate, North Suffolk

This Estate is inspired by Lemaire’s system of ‘active silviculture’, developed in France, designed to reduce the rotation from 150 years to 100.  This involves an innovative form of free growth based on the early identification of the final crop stems at about 15 years old!  These trees are then individually managed by halo thinning to encourage unhindered crown development with pruning to achieve a minimum timber height of six metres.  The morning visit finished at the Sawmill managed by Sutton Timber which sells kilned hardwood boards and engineered flooring to the trade.  Craftsmen also produce turnery and bespoke furniture.  The WSM concluded after lunch.