THE winner of the inaugural Professional Forester of the Year award has told of the difference it has made to his career – as nominations open for 2024’s edition. 

Network Rail’s Jonathan Callis fought off stiff competition to claim the first edition of the prize at the Confor Awards. 

Handed out to an individual who contributes to the ‘betterment of forestry’, the award may be related to a specific project or a range of activities at the community, regional, national or international level.

“Winning the inaugural Professional Forester of the Year Award was undoubtedly a career highlight,” Jonathan said. “Each time I see the beautiful carved yew wood trophy it makes me feel very proud. 

“Being nominated and then shortlisted was wonderful, but given the quality of the other finalists I had no expectation of actually winning. I was genuinely shocked, but absolutely delighted and honoured to have been chosen by the Institute’s judging panel.” 

Recently, Jonathan was given a promotion at work, something he puts down, in part, to his award win. 

"Winning the award gave me the boost and confidence to apply, and I am certainly glad I did!" he said. "Importantly, I will still be directly involved in working with trees, but will also form a new internal arboriculture team, something I am really looking forward to." 

Nominees for 2024’s award must be current ICF members. Nominations are open until Friday, January 26. Visit for more information and the full entry criteria.