July 13, 2021 - July 15, 2021

Whole Society Meeting

This year, the RFS has taken a fresh approach to the Whole Society Meeting with the aim of delivering an engaging and informative event while keeping our members, volunteers and hosts safe.

North West Midlands Division - Telford, Shropshire

This event is now fully booked, but we’re delighted that the North West Midland Division will be hosting WSM again in 2022 – this time with a full five day programme of WSM visits to completely different venues.  Full details will be announced in Autumn 2021.  

We are delighted to offer three wonderful days of forestry in mid-July but scaled back in anticipation of returning to a full-scale WSM in 2022.

We would like to give sincere thanks to the North West Midlands Divisional Committee and hosts for planning with such optimism in difficult circumstances, and who are kindly hosting again with their full original programme in 2022.

Itinerary

Tuesday 13 July – Leaton Knolls Estate

The 1500-acre Leaton Knolls Estate, 250 acres of which is woodland, was purchased by the late 6th Earl of Bradford in 1947.  His son, Charles Bridgeman, is hosting what promised to be a very interesting day.   A programme of felling and restocking using intimate mixtures, led by noted Head Forester Phillip Hutt, was undertaken, retaining many original mature conifers planted from the 1840s onwards.  A move to CCF is currently proposed following instances of landslip on steep slopes.  Species stock is broad with a focus on Douglas fir and oak, and the estate also sells 2000 Christmas trees every year and grows cricket bat willow on suitable sites.

Wednesday 14 July – Prees Heath Forest Nurseries and Aqualate Estate

AM- Prees Heath Forest Nurseries. Started by David Gwillam in 1979 on a 6-acre site growing conifers for the forestry market, the nurseries soon expanded to include broadleaves and hedging shrubs, and at their height were growing an incredible 10 million trees per annum across 72 acres.  With the benefit of excellent heathland soils producing good fibrous roots, the nurseries have developed a nationwide customer base of foresters, farmers, landowners and conservation groups.  We will enjoy a comprehensive tour of their range of trees, hedging plants, feathered whips, and pot- and cell-grown trees and shrubs.

PM – Aqualate Estate.  We start the tour with a short walk to the mere to discuss wetland habitats hosted by Natural England who manage this part of the estate. From there we will move on to some recently thinned mixed woodlands to discuss recent operations, future work, new planting and general management issues, hosted by the owners and the agent.  To finish, we walk up to the house where the owner will give an informative chat about the history of the estate, the house and gardens, the ancient parkland and the deer herd.

Thursday 15 July – Raby Estate

Situated in The Wrekin in the Northern area of the Shropshire Hills AONB, Raby Estate woodlands have a rich diversity of habitat and natural timber resource thanks to continuous forest management for generations.  They are sustainably managed under long term plans, independently certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Standard, which enable the estate to responsibly produce high quality timber while safeguarding biodiversity and the landscape.  A varied and thought-provoking day awaits.

How will we keep members safe?

  • Group sizes restricted to 30 per day.
  • No use of coaches – guests will drive to each venue using their own vehicles.
  • No Annual Dinner.
  • COVID safety measures to be implemented at each venue as needed.

Please note the above programme may be subject to change, and ticket holders will be refunded in full if COVID guidelines prevent the WSM from going ahead.