Woodlands Awards 2017: a community of winners

Woodlands Awards 2017: a community of winners

I saw the list… So many prizes... A huge community.” So wrote a delighted winner of one of this year’s Woodlands Awards, after looking at the full list of winners published recently on the Woodlands.co.uk website.

This was the first year of the Woodlands.co.uk-sponsored Woodlands Awards. The awards were divided into fourteen categories, some aimed at woodland owners and enthusiasts, some at woodland professionals and enterprises. The intention was to cover as much of the full gamut of woodland activities as possible and to give recognition to all the good work that is being done – professionally or for pleasure – in the woodland sector.

In the end, prizes were awarded for just thirteen of the fourteen categories (regrettably, no takers for the “Best Woodland Water Project”), but because there could be multiple winners in every category, we ended up with 49 winners in all – just one short of the round 50.

The prizes varied according to the category. All winners received a certificate, with specially commissioned artwork by Tania Hurt-Newton. Individual winners in certain categories also received an Award-winning book and woodland hand-tool: this year the book was The Wood for the Trees, by Richard Fortey, and the tool a Silky F180 Folding Saw.

Taken together, the winners represent an extraordinary range of woodland activity and expertise. Skimming through the full winners’ list and the citations gives a measure of this. Winning Woodland Blogs, for instance, record “the year of woodland management (planting, clearing, projects)” and “ambitious projects includ[ing] building the camp, hides, a pond, nesting boxes and – most impressive of all – a clay pizza oven.”

In one of the winning Community Woods: “All ages are catered for. The under-5 ‘Baby Bears’ and their parents meet for weekly fun and games, while the kids in the local Primary School enjoy Forest School once a week during term and a range of forest-based activities in the holidays. Teenagers and young adults can participate in Youth Skills Development work experience programmes, and older adults can calm their minds with a mindfulness meditation, or join a weekly walk.”

Of the winning Forest School: “I witnessed the teaching of survival, bush crafts, risk assessment skills and cooking with an open fire under strict safety protocols. They collect wood for fuel and build bonfires. Children learn about discipline such as single file, quietness and team ethics. It enhances confidence and self-esteem, building that ‘have a go’ attitude.”

A winning Woodland Course “Covered almost every aspect of owning and managing a wood. Very enlightening as to the importance of paying attention to the micro-organisms in the woodland, aiming to improve or maintain soil structure/presence of fungi etc.” In another: “We learnt how to choose a site to coppice, we learnt about compartments and coupes and coppice rotation and how to arrange stacks of produce such as pea sticks/bean poles/stakes/hedge posts, the list is endless.

The winners’ list also includes samples of the work of the winners of the Best Woodland Photography Award, and includes citations and reviews of the best Woodland Contractors, Woodland Tools, Woodfair Trade Stands, and Woodland Books of the Year – eight, no less: 2016/17 was a rich time for woodland writing and publishing.

It is indeed a community, and one that the Woodlands Awards are proud to honour. Congratulations to all the winners, and many thanks to all who took part, with their nominations and recommendations and entries.

We look forward to seeking new winners next year: the Woodlands Awards 2018 will be launched early in the new year.

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