FIVE award-winning woodlands in England are being held up as outstanding examples of adaptation to climate change.

The Perridge Estate near Exeter and the Morton Hall Estate near Retford have jointly won the All-England Woodland Resilience Award for Existing Woodlands, both demonstrating what can be achieved by adopting measures including diversifying species and genetics, and promoting variation in woodland structure.

The Goodwood Estate in West Sussex won the award for Woodland Creation, providing an outstanding example of integrating resilience measures into woodland creation plans.

Highly commended awards went to Moor Wood in Exmoor National Park in the Existing Woodland Category and Pleasant Wood in Kent, owned and managed by Forestry England, for Woodland Creation.

The awards were organised by the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG) as a forestry sector contribution to mark COP26. The FCCWG is a cross-sector body which promotes climate adaptation of trees, woods and forests in England.

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The judges of the Existing Woodland category were: Dr Gabriel Hemery, FICFor, CEO Sylva Foundation; Chris Sorensen, MICFor, woodland resilience officer, Forestry Commission and Simon Lloyd, chair of the FCCWG and former chief executive of the Royal Forestry Society.

They commented: “All the entries were of a high standard. The winners are considered outstanding examples of adaptation to current site conditions and projected local climate. They evidence a carefully considered and consistently applied balance between financial sustainability, ecological resilience, tried and trusted, and more experimental approaches.

“Morton Hall has applied the Forest Development Type framework to identify species and silvicultural methods matched to site specific soil and climate. AtPerridge, a wide range of alternative species and provenances have been planted, and natural regeneration encouraged while special care is taken to protect forest soils.”

The Morton Hall Estate’s Bill Mason commented: “The Mason family are delighted to receive a share of this important award. It is a fitting tribute to Ian Glenny who retired in March after 50 years as supervisor of the Morton woods. We hope that our example shows that careful planning and a long-term vision can both enhance woodland resilience and maintain profitability.”

Sir Harry Studholme, owner of the Perridge Estate, said: “Before climate change, a tree might expect to live for hundreds of years. This may no longer be true because on this timescale climate change could be far greater than the two or three degrees being discussed at COP. Now is the time to think how we can help respond. This competition and award was a great initiative both to raise awareness and encourage debate. I was delighted to have been able to enter, even more so to be a winner but most importantly I hope it encourages other woodland owners to begin to adapt."

Forestry Journal:

The judges for the Woodland Creation award were: Dr Keith Kirby FICFor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford; Ian Baker, CEO Small Woods Association, and Ian Tubby, Principal Advisor for Business and Markets, Forestry Commission England. They commented:“We were particularly impressed by the way that the Goodwood woodland creation scheme fits with the wider objectives and activities across the GoodwoodEstate .It fits in terms of biodiversity, access and production and the way that the experience gained from the area might be used on a wider scale.

“The plan to establish coppice with standards and introduce a small element of eucalyptus to supply biomass builds long term resilience for the estate.”

Darren Norris commented: “Goodwood Estate is honoured to receive this award in recognition of the new planting scheme and proud to part of the movement to protect woodlands for the future.” 

The awards were presented by Lord Benyon, Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity at DEFRA, at the Trees for the Future - diversity and complexity for resilience and carbon storage conference 3-4 November 2021 in Birmingham. The conference is organised by the Birmingham Institute of Forestry (BiFor) and the Association of Applied Biologists.

Case studies of the winning entries will be published alongside Managing for Resilience: ten case studies, published earlier this year by the Royal Forestry Society and the Forestry Commission.