Judges praise the long term vision at Bramshill Plantation in awarding it the 2019 Duke of Cornwall Award

The 2019 Duke of Cornwall's Award for multipurpose resilient forestry goes to Bramshill Plantation in Hampshire, managed by Forestry England and praised for its long term vision. Silver goes to Bagley Wood in Oxfordshire, owned by St John's College since 1557 and where planting is often the focus of forest research.

By Becky Wilkinson · December 26, 2019

This award recognises woods that are managed for ecological and economic resilience to threats such as pests, disease and climate change in order to meet commercial, environmental and/or social objectives.

1. Bramshill Plantation at Yateley, Hampshire. Managed by South England Forest District, Forestry England 

This 180ha site lies within both a Special Protected Area (SPA) and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Much of the area covered by Bramshill Plantation was formerly excavated for gravel and then in-filled and capped.

Judges praised the forest plan which provides a long-term vision for the structure of the woodlands and other habitats within the forest boundary in 150-200 years’ time. They were impressed by measures to ensure the forest remains resilient to environmental change including: diversification of timber-producing conifers using the Ecological Site Classification system; planting of broadleaves to increase resilience to wildfires; adaptive planning for conservation and a rolling programme of conservation work; small-scale hydrological interventions to retain water in the forest and reduce flooding beyond its boundaries; and a new programme of community engagement to involve local people in forest management activities.

Bruce Rothnie, South Forest Managing Director at Forestry England, said “We are delighted to have been honoured in this way and I would like to thank all of the team who have been involved in the management of Bramshill plantation over many years.

“The management of this forest is a story of restoration and resilience. It has taken considerable planning and expertise to turn this site from a barren quarry fifty years ago into the thriving forest that it is today. It is a really special place, offering an internationally important habitat for birds and dragonflies, supporting a diverse range of plants and trees and producing sustainably managed timber. With an eye to the future we are constantly looking at ways to make the forest resilient to the challenges of the future. This includes planting a more diverse range of tree species, and the management of water courses and wetland areas to ensure the special habitats remain resilient in the face of future climate change.”


2.Bagley Wood, St John’s College, Kennington, Oxford

Bagley Wood, on the edge of Oxford, has been owned by St John’s College since 1557. Although now absorbed in the suburbs of the City, Bagley is a 230 hectare (500 acre) Ancient Woodland Site, dominated by oak but including many small areas of non-native trees, planted over the years by staff of Oxford University, often as a focus for forestry research.  For conservation reasons it is assumed that the wood will continue to be dominated by high timber-quality oak in a semi natural structure, but a range of exotic species and non-local provenances will be retained as minor components to ensure that the wood is responsive, ecologically and commercially, to changing environmental conditions.  Social resilience is addressed through ongoing discussions with neighbours and local Parish Councils, with collaboration formed around the provision of permissive public access for local residents.  Such interaction is fundamental to the successful management of this large wood in its urban setting.

Prof Nicholas Harberd, Keeper of Bagley Wood, St John’s College, Oxford and Sibthorpian Professor of Plant Sciences at the University said: “On behalf of St John’s College, we are honoured and delighted that our strategies for management of our ancient woodland and for enabling community access to it are so strongly endorsed by this award from the RFS.”

With thanks to our sponsors