LORD Gardiner of Kimble, senior deputy speaker of the House of Lords, has been named as the winner of this year’s Woodland Heritage Peter Savill Award.

Past Peter Savill Award winner, longstanding Woodland Heritage member, and nationally respected forest manager and oak grower, Miles Barne, presented Lord Gardiner with the perpetual trophy under an oak tree at Sotterley.

While Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, Lord Gardiner’s brief included landscape such as National Parks and AONBs, it was his drive to improve the health of animals and bees, but particularly for the forestry sector and the health of the nation’s trees, that made him such an effective champion.

Biosecurity, including endemic and exotic plant and animal disease, invasive alien species and even Kew Gardens, were all within Lord Gardiner’s portfolio.

READ MORE: Forestry Commission launches new Tree Production Innovation Fund

From the outset, Lord Gardiner saw the potential of Woodland Heritage’s Action Oak initiative, launching it to an invited audience initially in the House of Lords in October 2017, before the full public launch at RHS Chelsea Flower Show the following May.

Later that year, at the launch of Action Oak’s ‘Celebrating our Oaks’ book and tour, Lord Gardiner both celebrated the progress with research into key threats to the oak, and at the same time showed his strong desire to turn the science into practical guidance for woodland managers.

In 2018, Lord Gardiner launched the Tree Health Resilience Strategy, its aims now reflected in the England Trees Action Plan published in May. 

A strong advocate of both the GB Plant Biosecurity Strategy and the work of DEFRA’s Plant Health Team, this led to the creation of the new Plant Healthy self-assessment and certification schemes, timed to coincide with the International Year of Plant Health in 2020, which also saw the launch of the inaugural Plant Health Week.

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