Norfolk and Suffolk woodlands receive top forestry awards

Four areas of woodland in Norfolk and north Suffolk have enjoyed success at the Royal Forestry Society's Excellence in Forestry Awards.

The awards had sought the very best in woodlands and woodland practices across counties between Derbyshire, north London and East Anglia.

The Forestry Commission's Mildenhall Woods at Brandon, part of Thetford Forest, scooped the Duke of Cornwall Award as the best Multipurpose Wood.

The Sotterley Farms partnership woods at Sotterley, near Beccles, shared the RFS Silviculture Award with Fulmodeston Severals and Hindolveston Wood, both near Fakenham, for woodlands grown primarily for commercial timber.

The Sylva Trophy was won by Burlingham Woods, near Acle, for the area's rapid development.

Presenting the awards at a special event at Madingley Hall in Cambridge, Royal Forestry Society (RFS) president Anthony Bosanquet said: 'We have witnessed some truly outstanding forestry management, making the very best of natural and human resources.

'One message that comes across clearly is that woodlands, and forestry, are alive and well, and that they play a key part in local economies and the well-being of local communities.' Duke of Cornwall Award winner, the 200-hectare Mildenhall Woods, falls within the Breckland Special Protection Area and the Breckland Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest. The wood has a wide range of uses including timber production, recreation, archaeology and biodiversity.

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Terry Jennings, Thetford operations manager for the Forestry Commission, said: 'The area is well used by local people and we work closely with Forest Heath District Council to make sure it meets local and wider needs.

'Recently the district council led funding for an adventure area with play sculptures and picnic benches, and a further mountain-bike skills area to encourage even greater use of the woodlands across a wide age group.'

The Sylva Award winner, Burlingham Woods, is owned by Norfolk Country Council and forms a network of woodland walks linking several parishes, including North Burlingham and Lingwood, Acle, Hemblington and South Walsham.

Since the project began seven woodlands have been brought back into management, 12 new woodlands and several orchards have been established and several kilometres of hedgerows planted. More than 10km of new paths, including over a kilometre of mobility access, have opened up access to the public.

The RFS Silviculture Award winner, the 160-hectare Sotterley Estate wood that covers 10pc of the Beccles estate, had 49 hectares of new woodland planted in the last century.

The estate sawmill converts a small proportion of felled trees for use on estate buildings and the balance is sold to trade, small hardwood thinning and branch wood are sold to local fuel merchants and small softwood thinning are chipped and used in the estate's small district heating system or sold to consumers locally.

Miles Barne, general manager of Sotterley Farms Partnership, said: 'Including shoot rental, the woodlands show a small surplus most years and a larger one when mature trees are harvested.

'Our primary aim is to grow first class timber within the constraints of landscape shelter and wildlife conservation with an emphasis on oak.'

To find out more about the RFS and your local division visit www.rfs.org.uk or call 01442 822028.

david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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