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Duke of Cornwall Award for Resilient Multipurpose Forestry 2021

Coed Caeaugwynedd, Llanfyllin, Powys, has won the award. Second place has gone to the Llanover Estate, Monmouthshire. Certificates of Merit were awarded to Powis Castle Estate, Welshpool, and Shane’s Castle Estate, Co. Antrim.

By Wendy Necar · September 3, 2021

The Duke of Cornwall’s Award is given for woodlands that are managed for ecological and economic resilience to threats such as pests, diseases and climate change.

1 Coed Caeaugwynedd, Llanfyllin, Powys, owned and managed by Keith and Decia Blacker/ Edistone Limited

Keith and Decia Blacker collect the Duke of Cornwall Award 2021 from Mark Gordon from  Award co-sponsor Savills 

This “Grown in Britain” certified forest of 29 hectares (ha) is on a challenging site in mid-Wales with 33 different species of conifer and broadleaved trees. It also has strong community links.

The wood is probably ancient. It retains small areas of ancient semi-natural woodland and veteran beech, holly and sweet chestnut from the 1800s. There are also 1951 and 1965 re-plantings of oak, beech larch, Douglas fir and other conifers.

The forest is managed to maintain as much canopy cover as possible. The core of the owners’ success was a business selling firewood that transformed into one selling made to measure log-stores of exceptional quality from timber sawn on site. The owners drew on their previous experience of process engineering and teaching to gain new knowledge and understanding of the forest requirements and wood science. They have also invested in appropriate roads, buildings and computing technology.

They hold annual open days to raise funds for Action for Children through guided walks around an intriguing Welsh hillside. A Forest School site helped local children gain invaluable experience of working together and developing new skills. A Mencap project on site also helps young people with learning and health issues.

Keith Blacker said, “We have gained considerable knowledge from RFS meetings over our 50 years’ membership. Combining that with the experience of a career in industry has helped us to create an exciting forestry business focused on satisfying customers and their needs.”

Judges said: “This model forest succeeds because of the owners’ extensive experience and accumulated knowledge. Others could copy the example providing there was access to coaching and mentoring, and sufficient capital to transform standing timber into bespoke products.”

2 Llanover Estate, Monmouthshire, managed by Andrew Bronwin on behalf of Trustees of Llanover

Elizabeth Murray collects the Certificate from South Wales Chair Chris Jones and EIF Awards judge Bryan Elliott 

This 192 ha site of largely ancient woodland is mostly replanted – one third broadleaves, two third conifers of which most are Douglas fir. Species diversity and large trees of exceptional quality are very important within the Park. Half of the woods lie within the Brecon Beacons National Park, so land-use change from pastoral agriculture towards forestry is handled sensitively.

Ross Murray, Trustee of Llanover Estate says :“Stewardship of our forests and plantations at Llanover has to acknowledge so many diverse sensitivities. We are very proud of our standard of management and grateful for the acknowledgment of the RFS through this award.”

The judges were impressed by the quality of harvesting and marketing that has:

  • restructured the woods;
  • produced income;
  • improved residual crop quality;
  • managed the disease risk to the value of larch plantations; and
  • shown sensitivity towards goshawks.

Judges also said: “The management approach of reducing complexity while retaining sufficient variation in proven species and provenances is effective and appropriate, well thought through and robust.”

Certificate of Merit: Powis Castle Estate, Welshpool, Powys managed by Andrew Bronwin on behalf of Trustees of Powis Castle Estate

Head Forester Lawrie Cooper, left, collects the Certificate from Mark Gordon from Award co-sponsor Savills

The largely ancient, mixed and replanted 199.95 ha woodland forms the heart of the Powis Estate. Registered oak seed, high value timber and well-presented firewood deliver an annual profit while maintaining exceptional landscape quality. The Park is heavily used by Welshpool residents, informally by a community Christian group as well as by Mencap.

Jonathan Herbert, Viscount Clive, Powis Estates said: “We are delighted to receive this award. It reflects the continuous hard work and dedication put in by our forestry team, management consultants and contractors in maintaining the historic woodlands at Powis Estates.

“Sustainability remains at the heart of what we do. We pride ourselves on achieving a suitable balance between commercial, environmental and social demands on our woodlands. We are continually striving for excellence and we are extremely grateful to the RFS to be recognised for this.”

The judges were impressed by the attention to quality and detail that offers a viable alternative to pastoral agriculture in this locality.

Certificate of Merit: Shane’s Castle Estate, Co. Antrim,  managed by William Magowan/ Shane O’Neill

Shane O’Neill, left, collects the Certificate from Awards judge Malcolm Beatty and Nothern Ireland Divison Chair James Hamilton Stubber. Photo Chris McCullough

The 198.3 ha Shane’s Castle Estate lies on the northern shore of Lough Neagh, Co Antrim, where the woodland on the estate effectively shelters the agricultural land from the open water and a busy public road.

The woodland is mostly ASSI, SAC, & RAMSAR and managed through a Low Impact Silvicultural System. There is limited opportunity to generate income from timber; instead, the woodlands are valued for their ability to produce a sense of atmosphere in film and television productions, and for pheasant shooting.

Forest activity aims to improve the structural diversity of the woodland though group felling and enrichment planting. The result is a more diverse woodland where the rate of change is in keeping with the ancient character of the estate.

William Magowan said: “There has been a continuity of woodland management on Shane’s Castle Estate for many generations which is unique in the NI context and therefore is the reason we have such an ecologically and aesthetically important habitat remaining.”

Judges praised the management of income from film revenue and the halo system of tree cutting to create an irregular shelterwood along the Lough shore woodland.

The RFS Excellence in Forestry awards are made up of five categories. Entries were accepted in late 2019/spring 2020 from the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Wales. Covid restrictions delayed judging until 2021. Our thanks to all who took part and to the judges for their patience.

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