THE winners of Confor’s #TheFutureIsForestry essay and video competition have been announced.

Jenny Knight of the University of Birmingham picked up the essay prize, while Scottish Woodlands’ Dan Haslam won for best video.

The awards were due to presented at Westminster by DEFRA minister Lord Goldsmith on Tuesday 24 March, but the event was cancelled due to COVID-19. It was initially delayed from last November when the general election was called.

The essay-writers and filmmakers were asked to respond to the question: ‘How can farmers and landowners be motivated to plant more trees to deliver a wide range of benefits, especially mitigating climate change?’

Jenny Knight, a doctoral researcher in geography and environmental science, won the essay prize by challenging the premise that farmers and landowners need to be motivated to plant trees and saying they just need more support to make it happen.

The judges commented: “Jenny set up the context for the discussion quickly, then questioned the question, and delivered a very coherent and persuasive argument as to how we can move forward, focused of relationship-building, communication and challenging perceptions. She identified very specific logistical challenges to planting at a local level, plus problems of knowledge and funding.”

Forestry Journal:

The video by Dan Haslam and colleagues from Scottish Woodlands put a forestry and wood spin on Monty Python’s famous ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ sketch, explaining the wide-ranging benefits of tree planting. You can watch the video here.

Runner-up in the essay prize was Alex Malkin, formerly of Tilhill and now working at Norbury Park, Staffordshire. Ellen Humphry of Coed Cymru placed third. Three entries were highly commended: Nathan Adams, a Bangor University master’s student who works with Focus Consultants; Jay Williams, former master’s student, Harper Adams University; and Maeve Wright, of legal firm Anderson Strathern.

The runner-up in the video prize was Pippa Paterson, former graduate rural surveyor with Davidson and Robertson (film here), while film-maker Chris Court was third (film here).

Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO, said: “It was disappointing to have to postpone the awards and then cancel them after such a strong set of entries. However, we are delighted to reward Jenny, Alex and Ellen for their videos. The current crisis is throwing up long-term challenges for forestry and the rural economy and it is great to see such creative thinking going on.”