Forestry Commission forest works supervisor Andrew Whistler has received this year’s Alec Pyman Award for excellence after coming top in the Forestry Foundation Degree at the University of Cumbria’s Newton Rigg College.
The Award is presented by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) North Western Division and is named after the late Alec Pyman, MBE, a pioneer in forestry education and a former RFS member.
Whistler already held a National Diploma in Countryside Management and was working as a forest craftsperson for the Forestry Commission when he decided to take the Foundation Degree on block release.
Presenting the award, RFS North Western Division chairman Stuart Palmer said: "Forestry is a dynamic industry, constantly needing to adapt and change to fit societies’ needs. It is an exciting time to be involved, as new ideas and improved technologies are introduced.
"Wood-fuel is now a viable alternative to fossil fuels and the recent Independent Panel on Forestry Report highlights just how important woodlands are to the public and local communities. There are also challenges and our current focus is on the impact of new pests and diseases, such as ash dieback and the role of global markets in their spread.
"It is ever more important that those looking after our forests and trees, have the theoretical knowhow, as well as the practical expertise to make sure our woodlands can continue to flourish and deliver a broad range of benefits."