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RFS Award for Excellence in Silviculture 2021

The Llangoed Estate, Builth Wells, Powys, has won the RFS Award for Excellence in Silviculture. Second place goes to The Myarth, Glanusk Estates, Brecon. A Certificate of Merit is awarded to Largybeg Wood, Co. Tyrone.

By Wendy Necar · September 3, 2021

This award recognises exemplary silviculture in commercial woodland or compartments of established crops less than 30 years age. Wood production (timber, wood fuel or other commercial products) must be the primary aim.

1 Llangoed Estate, Builth Wells, Powys, owned by Gerard and Jane Chichester and managed by Andrew Bronwin

The award goes to 45 hectares (ha) of certified, mainly conifer woodland within a larger plantation.

The Estate focuses on the best quality conifer crops possible for current markets, combined with respect for significant biodiversity.  They look to grow the highest yielding, best quality conifer crops possible for current markets, with a clear focus on producing timber (up to 60cm dbh) and a regular income.

Clear felling is mostly in coupes of under 5 ha to create a diverse age structure and capture as much value as possible.  Restocking programmes use improved Sitka spruce, Norway spruce and Douglas fir, often in mixtures, and establish at least 2500 trees per hectare.

Receiving the award Gerard and Jane Chichester said: “We are delighted to be honoured with this award. We have always taken great pride in our woods which are a crucial part of the estate and give us immense pleasure.”

Judges were impressed by the high quality of timber from felling and thinning operations using very fast-growing stock, and how this translated into a good financial return to the owners. Management practices, excellent record keeping and relationships with contracting teams were all praised.

2 The Myarth, Glanusk Estates, Brecon managed by Andrew Sowerby on behalf of Glanusk Estates

Planting, felling, and restocking have all increased structural diversity across 199 ha of The Myarth. It has also maximised wood products and ensured long-term local supply of quality round timber. A strategy for conifer rotations of approximately 70 years is used.

The north face of the site has an uneven age-class structure that promotes biodiversity and smooths long-term timber flows.  The south slopes present a biodiverse, mixed, mature woodland that has been thinned to maintain a productive woodland with semi-permanent canopy.

Andrew Sowerby commented: “It is a privilege to be recognised for excellence in silviculture.  The collaboration between The Glanusk Estate and Pryor & Rickett Silviculture is the result of three decades of hard work and professionalism.  We look forward to what the woodlands can achieve in the coming three decades.”

The judges were impressed by the quality of the plantations and the improvements achieved through thinning. They also praised the diversity obtained through sensitive species choice. Improvements to the internal road network have reduced travel distance and carbon footprint.

Certificate of Merit: Largybeg Wood, Baronscourt Estate, Co. Tyrone, owned and managed by Abercorn Estates

This is recognised as an important wood demonstrating Continuous Cover Forestry experience in Ireland.

The 107 ha is being transformed from even aged Sitka spruce plantations into uneven–aged and continuous cover forest with diverse species. This results in sustainable timber for processing off site, and wood fuel used on site to heat the Grade A Listed Mansion House. The planting also improves the resilience of the estate to flooding.

Matt Stuart said: “Abercorn Estates is delighted to receive a Certificate of Merit from the RFS in respect of Largybeg Wood on the Baronscourt Estate, Co. Tyrone. As the threats from climate change, pests and diseases continue to grow we equally grow in confidence that our decision to manage the Estate’s forestry in accordance with Continuous Cover Forestry principles was absolutely the right one in terms of ensuring a sustainable future for our forest resource.”

The judges recognised this estate plays a leading role promoting and testing the concepts of Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) in Ireland. They praised the approach to planning and reporting, and how this was informed by Herbivore Impact Assessments on natural regeneration.

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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