Handbook for Divisional Committees

A handbook for volunteers on divisional committees

A note from the Chief Executive

A note from the Chief Executive

The RFS is, and always has been, built around its membership. The RFS Divisions play a crucial role helping to build and support that membership through their activities. It is therefore vital that the Divisions receive the support they need so that the Society collectively can prosper. This handbook is designed to make it easier for Divisional volunteers to undertake their important roles. It provides a guide for how the RFS is run, its charitable objectives and how Divisions can support them. It is vital that Divisions and HQ work closely together to provide the best possible experience for our members and to recruit as many new members as we can. The RFS staff team, and the extended support team, wish to support the Divisions as much as they can. If there is anything you feel we can do better in that endeavour, please contact me directly. Christopher.Williams@rfs.org.uk
Finally, thank you for supporting the RFS through your volunteering, it is appreciated. I hope you find the Handbook helpful and that it enables you to make the most of your involvement with the Society for many years to come.

Section 1 – Divisional Information

  • The RFS is divided into twenty geographical divisions across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. View the map here.
  • On joining, new members are allocated to the Division in which their home address falls, but if they own woodland in other areas or have a specific interest in forestry activities in another area, they can also be linked to another Division in addition to their “home” Division (if desired).
  • Copies of the coloured map are included in the postal membership packs for new members.  If you would like to hold copies of the map in Division, please email our Membership Officer to request them. Staff contact details can be found here.

Details of each Division’s key committee contacts can be found in the following locations and are regularly update by HQ:

  • On the back “Divisional contacts” page of each issue of the Quarterly Journal of Forestry.
  • Honorary Secretaries can be found in the fixtures card, distributed each year in April’s issue of QJF.
  • Committee contact details are also held by RFS HQ in an internal contact directory.
  • HQ takes GDPR legislation and Data Privacy very seriously. You can view our Data Protection Policy here. For further information on the role that committees play in data protection, please see download Appendix 1: GDPR Guidance Notes for Divisions  (link at the bottom of this page).

In order that the above information sources can be kept up to date, please provide RFS HQ with a full list of your committee members to rfshq@rfs.org.uk and update us with any changes.

Every Divisional committee operates differently to best reflect the needs of their membership and appoints different roles and responsibilities to meet those needs.   The following is a quick overview of typical key roles that can exist within a Divisional committee and responsibilities that can sit within them, however please be assured this list is NOT a prescriptive one.  It is for Divisions to decide which roles are useful for their committees and how the responsibilities for running the Division should be shared.


  • Attend as many Divisional meetings as possible, introduce host and other persons involved in the meeting, thank the host at the end, present visit certificate, etc.
  • Write to host after meetings.
  • Attend as representative of Division at public invited functions.
  • Chair Committee meetings
  • Chair AGM
  • Organise an alternate when unavailable at functions / meetings
  • Monitor performance of other committee members generally and help where needed
  • Lead on membership recruitment in the Division
  • Generally, be the “public face” of the Society in the Division.
  • [Attend Council meetings if no separate Council Rep]

Council Representative

  • Attend Council meetings
  • Report back to the Division and help with implementing Council / Board of Management policy
  • Be the ‘voice’ to represent divisional concerns and offer up new ideas at Council
  • To generally assist the Chair and be the first alternate when the Chair cannot be present

Honorary Secretary

  • Take minutes of meetings, prepare agenda, and circulate papers as required
  • Ensure compliance with Companies Acts and Charity Commission requirements locally
  • Maintain the Division’s local records.
  • In conjunction with the Chair, organise all divisional meetings (contacting hosts / agreeing dates / doing the advance checks / risk assessments / notices to members, etc.)
  • Send details of Divisional meetings to HQ in good time.
  • Organise Divisional AGM
  • [If no separate Membership Secretary, carry out local membership role]
  • In conjunction with Membership Secretary (if any) ensure local compliance with GDPR and any other applicable “rules & regulations”.
  • Attend Secretaries meetings every 18 months (London) and report back to Division.


  • Maintain the Division’s books and accounts.
  • Pay all local invoices and bank all local receipts.
  • Maintain the bank account, including changes of signatories when necessary
  • Liaise with HQ in preparing accounts and balance sheet annually to 31 December for the audit
  • Report to HQ on stock
  • Report to HQ on gift aid data (and keep full gift aid information available locally for inspection by HMR&C if required).
  • Report to the Division committee on finances from time to time as required.
  • Make suggestions / recommendations for divisional expenditure and monitor account balance to give early warning of surplus building up (consider payment to HQ) or pending deficit (take corrective action and / or ask HQ for grant)
  • Collect cap at Divisional meetings
  • Claim capitation from HQ if required.

Membership Secretary

  • Obtain copies of the Division membership list from HQ
  • Maintain list of other members and contacts who are not on the division list but who need notices of divisional meetings (e.g. members in adjacent divisions who want to be on the mailing list, local representatives of Forestry Commission, Natural England, local wildlife trusts, tree officers, etc.)
  • Assist HQ with chasing annual renewal of subscriptions
  • Promote new membership of the Society
  • Welcome letters to new members

Learning / Outreach

  • Maintain links with agricultural colleges in the Division
  • Organise Silky Saw award and any local student award
  • Liaise with Teaching Trees Officer [and relevant schools in conjunction with TT officer]
  • Organise forestry student meetings
  • Encourage long service awards

QJF Reporter / Publicity

  • Organise the Divisional reports for the QJF (either writing themselves or delegating on a meeting by meeting basis).
  • Take photographs at meetings
  • Encourage other articles for the QJF
  • Consider local press publicity
  • Stands at local shows

Divisional meetings coordinator

  • Issue name badges
  • Take attendance record
  • Meet and greet members
  • Organise Divisional meeting badges, keep record of attendees.
  • Ensure guests at meetings are ‘looked after’ and introduced to other members.
  • Try and recruit guests as new members at the end of a meeting.
  • Put out signs if needed
  • Look after the Divisional PA unit
  • Be in charge of Biosecurity
  • Health & Safety on the day / ensure Risk Assessment completed for each visit
  • Carry first aid kit & water

Most Divisions have a constitution which sets out matters including:

  • The role of the Division.
  • The scope of activities.
  • The officers/committee members, how they are elected/appointed, term of office etc.
  • AGM, management of finances.

Divisions who do not have a constitution but wish to establish one can refer to the Regulations for the Organisation and Constitution of Divisions (Appendix 2 at the bottom of this page). Please contact the Chief Executive with any queries. Contact details can be found here.

Divisional committees meet periodically throughout the year.  Each division decides on the frequency of committee meetings to best suit the needs and activities of their local membership.  It is good practice for a committee meeting agenda to be circulated in advance, and for a committee member (often the Honorary Secretary) to be appointed to take minutes which should be circulated promptly following the meeting.  This ensures that those unable to attend are made aware of any actions agreed and the date of the next meeting, and that any minuting errors or oversights can be quickly corrected.

Each Divisional committee will ideally hold an annual AGM, usually during one of their woodland visits, for matters such as a Divisional Chair’s report, discussion and adoption of Divisional accounts, and Election of Officers and Committee members.  As with committee meetings, it is good practice for an AGM agenda to be circulated well in advance and for minutes to be taken and circulated promptly following the meeting.

The RFS’s offers a more comprehensive and varied annual programme of woodland visits than any other comparable organisation in the sector – almost 100 visits per annum across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Woodland visits are intended to showcase all aspects of forestry and woodland management and to provide an excellent opportunity for members to meet, learn and exchange ideas, whilst visiting varied and interesting woodlands, many of which are not accessible to the general public. 

The annual programme is publicised in the fixtures card circulated in the April issue of QJF, on the RFS website, in the fortnightly e-news bulletin and, possibly most importantly, via direct communication between Divisional committees (usually by the Honorary Secretary but some Divisions opt to appoint a Visits Secretary also).

Organisation of the annual programme is led by each Divisional committee with support from RFS HQ.  Divisions are responsible for identifying potential host venues and all aspects of host venue liaison and planning, and for providing HQ with the necessary information in order that HQ can produce the fixtures card each year.

Local Student prizes – in addition to the various national awards are presented each year by the Society (see section 3c), several divisions also support local awards. Details of each of the divisional awards and recent winners can be found here.

  • Shows – for more information on Divisional attendance at shows please see section 4f.
  • Joint meetings – Many Divisions have a long-standing practice of inviting neighbouring Divisions to co-host a woodland meeting that falls close to the border of the two. This gives members addition opportunities to visit woods that they may not have already seen, and to meet members from other Divisions. This practice is encouraged, and is best achieved by early planning and communication between the Divisions’ involved.
  • Publicity & fundraising – for more information about opportunities to fundraise please see Section 5 or contact our Development Manager at HQ. Contact details can be found here.
  • Local Competitions – covered under section 3c) “Awards, bursaries and studentships”

Section  2 – National RFS Activities

The RFS is an educational charity inspiring passion and excellence in woodland management. Founded in 1882, we are the largest and longest established forestry education charity supporting those actively involved in woodland management across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We believe bringing neglected woods back into management and sharing knowledge on how to manage woods to a high standard is vital to the long term health of our woods and trees. Our policies identify what is required to ensure our woods deliver their full economic, environmental and public benefits. You can read our policies here.

The RFS is a registered charity. It is run by the Board of Trustees and delegates operational matters to the Executive Team and to Divisions. The Board of Trustees is guided by feedback and views of the RFS Council.

Board of Trustees

The Board comprises four elected officers (President, Vice President, Chair and Treasurer) one ex-officio member (Immediate Past President) and up to four appointed members including at least one who represents Divisions. The Board is responsible for the strategy, direction and sound management of the Society. It meets three times a year (February, June and October). Further information here.


The Council comprises a representative from each of the 20 RFS Divisions, all past Presidents, the Board of Trustees and such co-opted members as the Council deems necessary. It is a communications channel to/from the Board of Trustees and Divisions and is responsible for nominating officers for election at the AGM and appointing other Trustees to the Board. It meets twice a year in London (April and November). Divisions are encouraged to raise agenda items and issues of interest. Travel expenses are reimbursed.

Hon. Secretaries meetings

The Hon. Secretaries meet informally on average once every 18 months to discuss matters of mutual interest and to share experience and good practice. Hon. Secretaries play a vital role in the Society’s activities. The meeting is an opportunity to network with others in the same role and to ensure a strong working relationship with the RFS HQ team.

National AGM

The RFS AGM takes place during the Whole Society Meeting in April or May. At this meeting, the Annual Report and Accounts are formally adopted, officers elected and auditors appointed.

RFS awards

Gold medal: The Gold Medal is the highest honour the RFS can make for distinguished services to forestry. It is not awarded regularly or lightly. Divisions are responsible for making nominations for a Gold Medal. Full details and list of past awards here

Sylva trophy: The Sylva Trophy is awarded every year to a person or organisation who in the view of the RFS has make an outstanding contribution to forestry. The award rotates round the country to coincides with the Excellence in Forestry Awards. Divisions are invited to make nominations to the Chief Executive.

Excellence in Forestry Awards: For more information on this award programme please see Section 6e).

Long Service Awards: this award is for hands-on woodsmen, contractors or foresters who have worked at the sharp end of forestry with the same employer and/or on the same estate for at least 30 years. Employers’ who must be RFS members, submit nominations which must be formally supported by the Division. HQ formally approves the nomination and liaises with the estate and the Division on a suitable date/venue.

James Cup: the James Cup is awarded each year to the author(s) of best article published in the QJF as judged by a panel of RFS members invited at random by the Chief Executive and working independently of each other.

Local Student prizes: several divisions support local awards. Details of divisional awards of which we have been sent details can be found on the website here.

RFS Bursaries & Traineeships

Forestry Roots: this scheme places college and university leavers into their first paid forestry jobs with RFS members and is intended to equip them with the skills and experience to kick-start their forestry careers. It is funded by the ALA Green Charitable Trust. Further information here.

Randle Travel Bursary: £300 bursary towards independent overseas travel to study any forestry and forestry-related topic. Open to all RFS members. For details and how to apply see here.

Spencer Bursary: £150 bursary for RFS student members to attend the RFS annual conference. For details and how to apply see here.

Viking Bursary: up to £2,000 for a UK student at any level enrolled in a forestry-related course in England, Wales or Northern Ireland who is undertaking a study that benefits the practical management and resilience of UK woodlands. For details and how to apply see here. The award is made by the Yorkshire Division and administered by RFS HQ.

Learning and outreach programmes are funded entirely from donations and grants.

Our Learning and Outreach (L&O) programmes are run by the Learning ang Outreach Manager and the Learning and Outreach Officer (contact details here). Through L&O we work with children and young people aged 3 – 30, aiming to inspire in them a love of forests, to open their eyes to the careers on offer and to support them into education and then on into the workplace. Alongside our two main programmes, we do an increasing amount of work at the national level, advocating for forestry education and standing alongside others in the sector with a united voice.

RFS Teaching Trees

  •  RFS Teaching Trees works with primary schools and landowners, offering educational visits to local woodlands and sessions in school. Our curriculum linked sessions give children the opportunity to learn about trees, wildlife and forestry in a fun and hands-on way.  Through their experiences they gain an appreciation of woodlands’ value for the environment, timber production and enjoyment.
  • We employ freelance Education Officers to deliver to session to children.  Find out more about our Education Officers here.
  • Our Junior Forester Award has been undertaken by over 10,000 children since its launch in 2019. It is a free to download resource that is used by schools across the UK.
  • We also provide a range of training courses to equip school staff and freelance professionals to deliver Outdoor Education in a woodland and to inspire the next generation of foresters.

Future Foresters

  • Future Foresters aims to strengthen the pipeline of skilled people entering forestry, to ensure we have a workforce that can meet the challenges of the 21st century.
  • Through Forestry Roots and the Patsy Wood Scholarship we help 8 young people each year to get their first job in the forestry sector as well as providing them with much needed training and mentoring.
  • Our Level 1 Qualification in Forestry in the Community has been developed by the RFS for young people aged 14 – 18 wanting to gain their first experience and qualifications in Forestry.
  • We work to encourage more young people to take up a job in forestry through digital media promotions and attendance at careers fairs.

Quarterly Journal of Forestry (QJF)

See section 8.

E-news bulletin

  • Issued fortnightly on alternate Wednesdays to all RFS members for whom we have current email addresses.
  • Editors – RFS Communications Officer and Digital Media Officer (contact)
  • Copy deadline – noon on the Friday prior to the Wednesday of publication.

Annual Review

The Annual Review is a new publication distributed to members in the April QJF, and to new members in their welcome pack. It is a digest of the activities of the Society and recognises all those who have contributed in various ways. It can be found here

Research reports and case studies

A number of research reports have been and will continue to be published by the RFS on topics of interest to members. They can be found here. There is also a growing library of case studies on a range of woodland management topics. They can be found here

Section  3 – Membership

Our RFS Development Officer, Membership Officer and Assistant Services Coordinator (contact) are here to help you manage membership in your division.

HQ will keep you up to date with membership details in your division and we are here to make things easier for you. We can provide you with:

  • A full membership list and email addresses which can be cut and pasted into your BCC line for large email notifications
  • New member details
  • A set of address labels, either for your whole division or just those without emails
  • One of the team will always be available on the phone to answer a query regarding a member/their details if we can find that information on their record.
  • Membership leaflets to promote the RFS
  • Up to date samples of the new member packs – which currently include a welcome letter (including a log-in to the member area of the RFS website, RFS Divisional map, current QJF, woodland fixtures list, RFS annual review, tree terms booklet and RFS car sticker.

After receiving their welcome pack, often the next experience that new members have with the RFS is being welcomed by the division and attending a woodland meeting.

  • Most divisions have a practice of emailing the new member to welcome them to their division and to provide details of upcoming woodland meetings. The tone of this email should be warm and welcoming. If you would like see examples of some welcome emails please contact our Membership Officer.
  • If you know that a new member is attending a woodland meeting, or you notice a new face on the day, please take the time to welcome them. Introduce them to other friendly RFS members and make sure they feel included. Check in with them at the end of the day to get their thoughts and check how their experience has been.
  • Some divisions have invited new members to a friendly ‘drinks and chat’ welcome at a pub. This is a lovely idea to connect new members. Do you have your own idea to welcome new members?
  • Most divisions send out email notifications wherever possible. This is best practice to reduce both the amount of paper used and the cost in posting letters. Some members choose not use email and require paper invites and other notifications.
  • Some divisions like to send out a divisional newsletter to their members once a year and prefer to send a paper copy to all.
  • Divisions will often have more communication and contact with their member than HQ does. If you get notified of a change of address detail or email or any other preference please do let HQ know as well so that we can update the main database.

The RFS has created guidance notes for handling of sensitive data on our members. Please see Appendix 1. The guidance notes are focused on the Secretaries position of the committee as they handle most of the data, however the information applies to anyone that handles member data on behalf of the RFS. Please read the notes and if you have any questions contact HQ on 01295 678588.

Many of our new members join us as a direct result of contact with our Divisional Committees, who are the best ambassadors for the RFS.  They might be people that you know, friends of friends, colleagues, or guests that have joined on numerous woodland visits. Often, all someone needs is a prompt – a conversation or an “ask” if they want to join. We can provide membership leaflets to you or you can point them to our website. Many of our online joiners select ‘referred by friend’ as their reason for joining.

HQ attend a number of forestry, arb or countryside shows each year (for example, CONFOR Woodland Show, The Arb Show, The Royal Welsh Show). This is to raise the profile of RFS, engage with the public and recruit new members.

Some divisions like to have an RFS stand at local county shows manned by divisional volunteers. HQ can support you if you want to have a stand at a show by:

  • Providing sample materials such as QJFs, tree terms booklets, resources and literature
  • Providing an RFS banner and flag
  • Membership leaflets
  • Advise on RFS news, events and activities.
  • Support on how to have engaging conversations and do ‘the ask’.

Divisional woodland visits are covered in detail in Section 1.7 as the programme is driven very much by each individual Division.  RFS HQ supports Divisions by ensuring that:

  • A one-page advertisement is inserted into January’s QJF listing any Divisional meetings happening very early in the year, or that have been already finalised.
  • The fixtures card is compiled, printed and circulated with April’s QJF
  • Every Divisional woodland visit is loaded onto the RFS website here https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/woodland-meetings/

Divisions need to provide HQ with the following information in order that the above tasks can be completed (please see the fixtures template in Appendices):

  • Meeting venue and nearest town
  • Host
  • Meeting date and time
  • Meeting theme or topics to be covered

HQ will make contacts with Hon Secretaries to discuss the following year’s woodland visits in September each year and then onwards until the fixtures card runs to print in March. 

The deadline for submission of early visits for a listing in January’s QJF is on or around the 20th November of the preceding year.

The deadline for submission of a complete visit programme to HQ for inclusion in the fixtures card is on or around the 15th February.

If you have any queries about this process, please don’t hesitate to contact the office on 01295 678588

Section  4 – Fundraising and Development

Fundraising and Development covers all charitable donations and grants over £50. Donations and grants can be made from:

  • Individuals (including Major Donors),
  • Private grant givers (charitable trusts, foundations and businesses),
  • Public sector grant givers (European grants, government grants and public sector grant organisations)
  • In memory of someone who is deceased (in memoriam donations and legacies)

Every year we fundraise against different projects. Much of our fundraising effort is directed towards projects in our two flagship programmes; Teaching Trees and Future Foresters.

  • Teaching Trees is the RFS’s programme of work with primary schools to help children (whatever their background) find value in trees and woodlands. We need to find over £100,000 a year to run this programme.
  • Future Foresters is a forward-thinking programme, which aims to raise the profile of forestry and inform and inspire more people to pursue careers in forestry and its allied sectors. Every year we raise over £150,000 to run this programme.
  • Grants for Resilient Woodlands and Treescapes. We work with corporate partners to get grants for RFS members who are delivering more resilient woodlands through tree planting and management.

Saying ‘thank you’ properly is something the RFS prides itself on. About 40% of the time we spend on fundraising and development is spent on saying thank you and looking after our generous supporters. We need our supporters to know that we are transparent in the way we spend their money, that we would never waste their money and that the money they have given us is going to the cause they meant it for. Here’s how we do that:

  • It is RFS policy to thank anyone who has donated £50 or more (in one go) personally. We usually write a letter but sometimes we make a visit, phone call or send an email.
  • We send out update reports about our projects to our donors
  • We invite donors to special events, where they can hear more about our work

We want anyone who is thinking of leaving the RFS a gift in their Will (either a sum of money, property, land or an object) to talk to us about their wishes. It is important to do this to make sure that any gift that is left to the charity can be used in the way it is intended.

Often, people have a very specific idea of how their gift should be used by the charity after they are gone. We want to make sure that these express wishes can be carried out. It is very important to think about the real legacy of any gifts that are left to us. For example, if someone leaves us a gift of £250 and asks us to put a wooden bench seat in their favourite woodland, there are several things to consider:

  • Will the gift cover the full cost of the bench (including delivery and installation), if not where will we get the additional money from?
  • What happens if the bench is damaged, vandalised or just becomes unusable through wear and tear? Who is responsible for the ongoing upkeep and for how long?
  • Is there space in the woodland for the bench and is it appropriate in this setting?

If you know of anyone who is considering making a gift in their Will to the RFS, please encourage them to contact us in absolute confidence and with no obligation, to discuss options.

So many of our members are generous enough to open their homes and businesses to us for fundraising events. We are always looking for stunning places to take our supporters (to say thank you and tell them more about the brilliant work of the RFS). If you know a place that might be suitable for a fundraising event, please contact the development manager (contact).

Section  5 – Events and Training

Divisional woodland visits are covered in detail in Section 1.7 as the programme is driven very much by each individual Division.  RFS HQ supports Divisions by ensuring that:

  • A one-page advertisement is inserted into January’s QJF listing any Divisional meetings happening very early in the year, or that have been already finalised.
  • The fixtures card is compiled, printed and circulated with April’s QJF
  • Every Divisional woodland visit is loaded onto the RFS website here https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/woodland-meetings/

Divisions need to provide HQ with the following information in order that the above tasks can be completed:

  • Meeting venue and nearest town
  • Host
  • Meeting date and time
  • Meeting theme or topics to be covered

HQ will make contacts with Hon Secretaries to discuss the following year’s woodland visits in September each year and then onwards until the fixtures card runs to print in March. 

The deadline for submission of early visits for a listing in January’s QJF is on or around the 20th November of the preceding year.

The deadline for submission of a complete visit programme to HQ for inclusion in the fixtures card is on or around the 15th February.

  • In May each year, the Royal Forestry Society organises a Whole Society Meeting (WSM).  This is a study tour of an area of the country which is open to all RFS members and their guests. Every year, a different Division of the RFS hosts the WSM to showcase the best forestry across a range of interests in their region. Traditionally the Annual AGM takes place during WSM week, along with the Annual Dinner, although it is possible that the AGM will become a Zoom-based event going forward.  For more information visit –  https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/rfs-study-tours/
  • Organisation of WSM requires close partnership between the host Division and HQ. The host division takes the lead on planning and delivering the programme of visits, identifying and liaising with host venues, developing each day’s itinerary and assigning Committee members to lead each day’s activities.  HQ, with input from Committee, recces, selects, books and liaises with the base hotel, organises the Annual Dinner, AGM, books lunch venues, books coach travel, puts tickets on sale, deals with PR and publicity, takes all ticket bookings and handles all member liaison.
  • WSM tickets go on sale at the end of December each year and ticket sales close on 28 February. It is crucial that committees encourage their members to book quickly if interested in attending as the event is incredibly popular and late bookings create a significant amount of extra work for HQ, the hosts, Committee and the base hotel.
  • Committees keen to host WSM are encouraged to contact the Chief Executive.

On alternate years the RFS hosts an Overseas Study Tour.  Recent destinations have included Bavaria, East Coast USA, Costa Rica and (most recently) Finland in September 2022.  This is an incredibly popular event and tickets sell out quickly.  More information can be found here https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/rfs-study-tours/

  • The Royal Forestry Society stages a conference most years, often organised in partnership with other organisations. Conference themes and dates vary.  They are comprehensively publicised to members via mailshot, on the RFS website and e-news, in QJF, via partner organisations and affiliates and through PR and press releases in the forestry and arb press.  Ideas for conference themes and host venues are always welcomed by HQ.
  • Since 2017, the RFS has organised NDG James Memorial Lectures in memory of Jimmy James, an esteemed RFS member and one of the best-known names in British forestry. The event is staged courtesy of very generous support from the James family.  More information on the next event will be posted online here https://rfs.org.uk/events/
  • These awards celebrate all that is best in woodland management, education and learning. The awards have hitherto been annual and cover a different geographical area each year.  They consist of 5 different award categories all of which can be viewed here https://rfs.org.uk/about-us/rfs-awards/excellence-in-forestry-awards/
  • The awards have hitherto taken place at an awards ceremony in mid-July, in a suitably prestigious location.
  • The Sylva Trophy, presented annually to recognise a person or organisation who in the opinion of the RFS has made an outstanding contribution to forestry in its broadest sense, is usually also presented to the RFS’s nominated recipient at the Excellence in Forestry awards in July. https://rfs.org.uk/about-us/rfs-awards/rfs-sylva-trophy/
  • In 2022 the Excellence in Forestry Awards was a “Best of the Best” award in each category selected from the winners and runners-up from the last five years of the competition. From 2023 the competition will be redesigned and relaunched.
  • RFS one day training courses are designed to meet the needs of new and novice woodland owners and others who wish to further develop their existing knowledge and skills in many aspects of forestry. The programme has expanded from 4 courses in 2017 to 16 in 2022. Tickets for each course are limited and most sell out quickly.  https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/one-day-training/
  • The RFS now also offers a programme of online training modules delivered via Zoom. Details can be found here – https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/online-events-and-training/
  • In 2021 the RFS launched “RFS Book Club” featuring interviews with well-known forestry and woodland authors about their books, with opportunities for RFS members to ask questions. We also launched the first of our evening online discussions with esteemed forestry professions. For more information visit https://rfs.org.uk/events-category/online-events-and-training/

Ideas on future one day training courses, events and potential venues are always welcome.

Section  6 – Finance

Payment of the Divisional Support Fund

  • Divisions will be notified by HQ of the intention to pay Divisional Support of £3/member, 50% as a flat rate and 50% based on number of members recorded on 1 April each year in the RFS membership database.
  • Divisions may opt out of this payment by notifying HQ in writing within two weeks of receipt of the HQ notice.
  • In the absence of an opt out Divisions will receive Divisional Support by 1st June each year
  • Funds not claimed will accumulate in the Divisional Support Fund. Any Division may bid for money from this fund by submitting a case for support which will be considered by the Board of Trustees. The RFS Council will be informed of the balance of funds and any bids submitted.
  • The Divisional Support Fund is intended to supplement not substitute for local Divisional fundraising such as meeting caps, sponsorship and in-kind support.
  • The Board of Trustees will review the Divisional Support Fund annually and make any changes they judge appropriate. The new procedure takes effect from 1st January 2015.

Application of funds by Divisions

  1. Divisional Support Funds must be applied by Divisions to support the RFS charitable aims and objectives.
  2. Funds should not accumulate in Division bank accounts. Where there is evidence that this is happening and following discussion with the Division, the Trustees may elect to withhold payment of the Divisional Support Fund.
  3. The following is a list of items that qualify for Divisional Support Fund expenditure. It is not exhaustive and Divisions are encouraged to use their judgement and to think broadly about the range of educational initiatives they can support consistent with the aims of the Society. Where there is any doubt, don’t hesitate to consult HQ.
    • Equipment for Division woodland meetings, including speakers, signage, name badges.
    • Stationary and postage for mailing to members.
    • Promotional and PR expenses incurred in recruiting new members.
    • Venue hire, expenses for external speakers.
    • Portaloo hire
    • First Aid or event risk assessment courses for Committee members
    • Food and refreshments for members attending Divisional meetings.
    • Honorarium for Hon. Secretary/meetings secretary.
    • Hire of mini bus for students to attend woodland meetings.
    • Volunteer travel expenses for recce of woodland/evening meeting venues, reimbursed at £0.45/mile for the first 100 miles and £0.25/mile in excess, or as otherwise advised by HQ.
    • Sponsorship of an award or bursary at a local college where forestry, arboriculture or countryside management courses are taught.

Record keeping and Divisional accounts

  • Divisions must keep accurate and complete records of income and expenditure and submit annual accounts to HQ by the end of the first full week of January.
  • Divisions must have appropriate financial controls in place for the authorisation of all expenditure.
  • Expenses should be submitted to Dawn in HQ by the 7th of each month for the previous calendar month.
  • Please complete the RFS expenses claim form (see item g) in Appendices) and email it to Dawn at dawn.dewhurst@rfs.org.uk Along with your form, please forward scans of your receipts (or post hard copies) in order that the claim can be fully processed.
  • If you provide Dawn with your bank details, she can make payment by BACS transfer (BACS transfers are simple and are more traceable from an accounts perspective than other payment methods) unless you would specifically prefer to receive your expenses by cheque. Payment will be made by the 30th of the month in which they have been submitted.
  • Mileage allowance for fuel claims is 45p per mile for the first 100 miles and 25p per mile thereafter.

Please supply HQ with the information we require regarding claiming on Caps Under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS). Rules state that we can claim on small donations (such as Divisional meeting caps) from individuals as long as no one person pays more than £20.  We do not need a gift aid form signing by each person donating under this scheme, but we do need the following:

  • Name of Person collecting the money
  • When/where it was collected
  • Total amount collected

You do not need to provide HQ with a list of meeting attendees, but you do need to keep hold of this should we ever be audited in the future.

Should you have any questions regarding the above please don’t hesitate to contact Dawn Dewhurst at HQ on (01295) 678 588 or on dawn.dewhurst@rfs.org.uk

31st December is our financial year end and our accounts are audited from mid-January onwards.   Please therefore supply Dawn Dewhurst in HQ with Year End Divisional accounts via e-mail or in the post to reach her in early January – Dawn will email committees in early December to notify them of the exact year end accounts deadline each year.

Please supply Dawn with the following:

  • Divisional accounts to 31stDecember
  • Bank statements to include 31stDecember
  • Details of any stock held by the Division.

Annual reports are produced by HQ and signed off by the Board of Trustees at the first Trustees meeting of the year, in February. Copies of past Annual Reports and Annual Reviews (simplified accounts and a round up of the past financial year) can be found on the website here.

Section  7 – Quarterly Journal of Forestry

The Quarterly Journal of Forestry is issued in January, April, July and October of each year.  It is received by all current RFS UK and international members.

You can contact the Editor of the QJF by emailing qjf@rfs.org.uk.

Please see our webpage for guidelines regarding articles for the QJF here:  Deadlines for submission of copy to the Commissioning Editor for the QJF are:

  • For Jan – Mid November
  • For April – Mid February
  • For July –  Mid May
  • For October – Mid August

All Divisions are asked to submit reports and pictures from their woodland visits, lectures and other events to help disseminate any learning points through the wider membership. Please nominate a scribe and photographer for each visit!  Reports should be 200-600 words long and pictures must be provided in a High Res format (300dpi and 1-2MB or more). Please ask those taking part in the visit and the landowners/organisations for permission to take pictures.

The RFS invites members to submit outstanding photographs to the QJF in an annual photography competition.  Placed entries will be published on the front cover of the QJF and entries placed first will receive an additional prize.  For more information visit www.rfs.org.uk/about/publications/qjf-photo-competition/

The James Cup is presented by the RFS annually to the author of the best original article for the year in our Quarterly Journal of Forestry (QJF). The award is made in memory of NDG James, a distinguished forester and former President of the RFS.  More information can be found here www.rfs.org.uk/awards/rfs-james-cup-award/

Section  8 – Sharing knowledge

The RFS has an exceptional repository of knowledge intended to help further the RFS’s vision and mission to inspire passion and excellence in woodland management.  Our members could be considered the Society’s most valuable knowledge base which is shared and enjoyed via the Divisional meeting programme.

This is a section of the RFS website being developed to provide learning resources to help develop a better understanding of trees, woods and forestry in the UK.  Pages are devoted to topics such as tree biology, tree and forest health, species choice and woodland management. In addition, we are developing a range of resources to assist with care and management of woodlands, including decision support tools. Some of these resources have been developed in partnership with other organisations.   Information and support for new woodland owners can be found here.

Over the years the RFS has built up a unique library of tree- and forestry- related publications including a complete set of the Quarterly Journal of Forestry from 1907 and other reference books which can be accessed by RFS members.  Members can borrow books or even visit RFS HQ at the Hay Barns to browse, by prior appointment www.rfs.org.uk/about/library/

We are collating a series of case studies showing good forestry and woodland management practice with the intention of inspiring to acquire practical knowledge to manage woods to the highest standards.  Many of these are past winners of RFS Excellence in Forestry awards or good examples of pest and disease control and mitigation, for example.  For a full list of case studies visit http://www.rfs.org.uk/learning/case-studies/

If you know of members who might like to have their woods featured in a case study please contact our Communications Officer at communications@rfs.org.uk.

Section  9 – Media and Photography

It is important that the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) speaks with one voice on matters of national or general interest, such as outbreaks of pests and diseases, new Government guidance on management, storm damage, squirrel management, grants or new sponsors/supporters.

The RFS Head Office focuses on the forestry, national and wider press, and social media. Occasionally we may contact your division for a quote for local press or for someone to talk to local radio/TV, but we do not have the resources to provide a full ‘local press’ service. We do however send out local releases on national events like the Excellence in Forestry Awards, Long Service Awards and other occasional topics.

The following guidance is for divisions who would like to generate interest in their local press on divisional activities to help recruit new members. Topics you might like to consider publicising include:

  • Start of the season summary of events
  • Election of new chairman/ secretary/ retirement of long-standing chairman
  • Post event press releases
  • Presentations of awards
  • Death of prominent member
  • Divisional open event (to recruit new members during season)
  • Invitation to journalist to feature the divisional group and its activities

If there are other topics you would like raise in the local press, but which have the potential to be contentious, we would ask that you check first with the RFS Communications Officer (communications@rfs.org.uk) or Chief Executive Christopher Williams (christopher.williams@rfs.org.uk) so we can be sure that messages given out reflect the RFS Membership as a whole.

If you are approached for comments on issues like grey squirrels or the emergence of new diseases, please ask for time to respond and check back with the Communications Officer or Chief Executive so that we can help develop an appropriate response with you.

You might like to appoint a specific divisional member to be your press officer/ photographer so they can be the main contact for local press. The aim would be for the local press officer to build a first- name terms rapport with a local journalist, if possible.

In general, press releases will need to be sent out immediately after an event so they are not dated. The most appropriate person to quote within local releases will usually be the Chair. Please always check with the venue owners that they are happy for you to send out a post event release that names their venue.

Within each division you will have a number of main local newspaper titles which have both print and electronic issues. The electronic issues often include fewer items than the print version, so it its worth sending to both, if they have different editors.

Since many divisional events are hosted privately, i.e. are not public events, it will not usually be appropriate to send out a pre-event release. This however would not preclude a division from a ‘start of the season’ type of release highlighting topic areas to be covered, but not indicating venues.

Talks or events being hosted in public spaces such as village halls and similar venues with invited speakers and authors however would be suitable for a pre-event release.

The principles of press releases are quite standard:

  • make sure you have a catchy title and a short but interesting first paragraph (one sentence)
  • use your second paragraph to back up your introduction with a couple more of the main facts
  • consider your story as an inverted triangle with the most important facts at the top and the less important facts trailing down to the point. This has two advantages – it enables sub-editors to edit your story easily, if they have a gap to fill, and also means that someone can gather the main points just by reading the first few paragraphs
  • Make sure the article then answers the four Ws: WHAT, WHEN, WHO, WHY. Sometimes you may need to add HOW
  • include a quote, either from your Chair/host/celebrity speaker if appropriate and conclude with a note about your next activity, to stimulate interest in joining.
  • keep it short – 5-8 paragraphs is the maximum.
  • attach an interesting picture and caption whenever possible. These are usually best posed and please make sure people are facing the camera!
  • always include your contact details and add the following boiler plate.

The following bullet points are useful to send to editors, as an addendum to any articles or press releases, to give them a clear and concise understanding of the Society and the context in which we operate.

  • The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) is the largest and longest established educational charity promoting the wise management of trees and woods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • The RFS aims to inspire passion and excellence in woodland management. We do this through education and knowledge-sharing.
  • The RFS believes bringing neglected woods back into management and sharing knowledge on how to manage woods to a high standard is vital to the long-term health of our woods and trees. Our policies identify what is required to ensure our woods deliver their full economic, environmental and public benefits.
  • For over 20 years, Teaching Trees has been connecting schools with local woodlands across England and Wales.
  • For information go to https://www.rfs.org.uk/. Follow us: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram

Our social media channels are managed by our Digital Communications Officer (contact).

PLEASE copy in communications@rfs.org.uk to all your press releases so we are aware of what is happening in your division as it may well feed into social media or other campaigns.

Your meeting hosts and guests might want to put up pictures from events on Social Media. Please clarify beforehand with your hosts that they are happy for that to happen. If they are not, please let your guests know. If they are, please ask guests to tag us in on their posts so we can pick up and retweet etc if appropriate. Our Social Media tags are

Twitter @royal_forestry

Facebook @RoyalForestrySociety

Instagram @royal_forestry

  • Abbreviations – always spell out words on the first use, putting the abbreviation in brackets so that you can use the abbreviated form later on. For example, the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) on first mention, RFS thereafter.
  • Bullet points – useful for providing key facts about any subject, avoid over-use though, only one set per release and then more than six can look clumsy
  • Consistency – make sure that you are consistent in your releases, always use the same format for dates for example, 8 August or 8th August – neither is right or wrong, but keep them the same throughout
  • Design and lay-out – A simple font, 11pt, Arial with 1.15 or 1.5 line spacing makes it easy to read
  • Everyday English – use the words you would use in everyday conversation, avoid technical terms and jargon, but if you do use them, give a short explanation e.g., mensuration (measurement of trees and stands)
  • Keep to the point – don’t use 100 words, where 30 will do.
  • Numbers – one to nine inclusive, you write out in full, 10 onwards in figures.
  • Paragraphs –and indeed sentences should be a maximum of around 30 words. If they are longer, consider splitting in some way.
  • Quotation marks. “………” said Mr Smith. He said: “………” The punctuation goes inside the end quotation marks. Avoid single quotation marks – they are unnecessary around the names of schemes and the titles of publications or reports.
  • All images should be at least 500 x 500 pixels and preferably over 1000 in each dimension.
  • Pictures should be in landscape and preferably 16 : 9 ratio.
  • Please use plain English for Image titles e.g. Hockeridge Beech not hpwb2021.
  • All images must comply with our GDPR policy. Do not use an image with people in it unless you are sure that this is the case.

Section  10 – Branding

Our RFS brand is much more than our logo. It is the look and feel of the organisation. Divisions are where most people come into direct contact with the RFS and so it is often the divisions that give people their first impression of our organisation. We know that our volunteers in divisions are brilliant at representing our organisation (and thus portraying our brand) as knowledgeable, friendly and inclusive. We want to build on this, reinforcing it with other visual representations of our brand, such as our logo and our colours. Our RFS red differentiates us from other woodland organisations, helping to increase visibility and recognition in the sector. Our green reflects the natural greens of woodlands and forests. For a copy of our Branding guidelines document and/or for more information about how to use our RFS colour palette, please call 01295 678588 or email rfshq@rfs.org.uk.

Our logo displays much more than our name. It says a lot about what we do. The capital (but nicely rounded off) letters in our logo give an authoritative feel that is also designed to make us look friendly and approachable. The colours in our logo differentiate us from other woodland and forestry organisations.

Our logo is the most powerful visual representation of our brand and we should display it everywhere we can. The strongest, preferred way to use the logo is in colour on a white background.

For more details about how to use and display the RFS Logo and to check that you are using the most up to date logos, please email rfshq@rfs.org.uk.

RFS letterhead, which can be edited to show contact details for your Division is available from Head Quarters. Please email rfshq@rfs.org.uk to request your editable copy of our letterhead, document template or PowerPoint slides.