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Farm and Small Woodlands: Best of Best Award 2022

This Award recognises smaller (0.2ha to 20ha) woods that have been actively managed in the last 10 years by the owner or under his/her guidance. Following five years of regional Excellence in Forestry Award the regions’ winners went head-to-head this year for the title Best of the Best.

By Wendy Necar · July 14, 2022

1 Bron Haul near Abergele, Conwy

Owned and managed by Ruth Pybus and David Brown

Pictured; Ruth and David in Bron Haul Wood

This 20-hectare mixed broadleaf woodland is integral to a small livestock rearing farm. It was planted about 25 years ago and extended eight years ago.

Intimate mixes of mostly site native species produce quality broadleaf timber while improving biodiversity. A network of tracks and public footpaths provides access to most areas and give the owners opportunities to interpret their vision for visitors.

Now in its third round of thinning, the woodland hints at high-quality timber resource and is already producing small amounts of planking timber. In 2021 a business partnership ‘Broadleaf Wales’ began to create a market for their timber and timber products. Timber has been used for sweet chestnut stiles, wild cherry doors, planed ash and cherry flooring planks. Lower quality thinnings go to local firewood merchants.

The woodland is increasingly used as a teaching resource for a Managing Small Woodlands scheme. It is also hosting a RFS Forestry Roots placement, providing a first paid step to a forestry career. The owners are mentors for Farming Connect and the Woodland Trust’s suppliers list.

Judges comments

The judges were impressed the enterprise continues to develop, delivering off-farm incomes.

“The benefits are clear. Livelihoods are retained in a remote, rural area through a viable beef herd, firewood sales and high quality, bespoke wood products. There are clear public benefits from woodland cover on steep valley slopes to protect water quality. Biodiversity increased on site and through improved connectivity up and down the valley. A community of small-scale woodland enterprises is developing in the Elwy Valley.”

More here.

2 Broomhill Wood, Gloucestershire

Owned and managed by Will Wilkinson

Pictured: ride maintenance and coppicing

This 10ha mixed woodland contains high forest stands, a coppice understorey and a small stand of P55 Coast Redwood. It is managed as Continuous Cover Forestry.

Plans are progressively updated to produce good quality timber and coppice. This has been used to supply traditional fencing markets and promote the use of traditional timbers into a school building project.

High quality fuelwood is produced for family and friends and local sales, while food (venison, fruit) is enjoyed by the family.

Protecting and improving the site ecology is also an important objective.

The plans achieve financial break even, excluding the major capital improvements. Current costs are financed by product sales and woodland grant-in-aid with the owners financing capital improvements and machinery purchases.

Local merchants and contractors are used for major works such as thinning. Other woodland work is carried out by either family and friend work parties at weekends or holidays

The wood is also used for educational and for charity events. These have included a week- long series of visits by 12 Gloucestershire primary schools and charity Christmas tree events held in the woodland.

For more details contact Will Wilkinson 07860 739024

Collecting their awards:

Left: Farm and Small Woodland Award 1: Bron Haul Conwy. From left, RFS President Sir James Scott, judge Bryan Elliott, sponsor Owen Davies from FSC. Receiving the award Ruth Pybus and David Brown, owners of Bron Haul

Right: Farm and Small Woodland Award 2: Broomhill Wood, Gloucestershire. From left, RFS President Sir James Scott, judge Bryan Elliott, sponsor Owen Davies from FSC. Collecting the Award, Will and Sue Wilkinson, owners of Broomhill Wood

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