The awards aim to identify the best woodlands in the region and to shine a light on local beacons of good practice. At stake are £1,000 top prizes and £500 second prizes in each of five categories.
The new Urban Forestry category is for trees and woodlands within urban populations of more than 10,000 to recognise inspiring projects involving trees in any land use including streets, parks, urban woodlands or within social housing. Entries are expected to show a strategic and innovative approach to urban tree management and regeneration.
A separate Schools Award is also being offered to nurseries, schools and educational organisations for inspirational projects relating to trees and woods. No woodland is necessary.
RFS president Nick Halsey said:
"Woodlands and trees play a vital role in all aspects of our lives – from helping to combat climate change and providing timber, to enhancing our environment and leisure activities. By shining the spotlight on the very best a region has to offer, we are able to share best practice amongst other woodland owners and managers."
Keith Jones, Forestry Commission Area Director for the North West and West Midlands, said:
"There are some outstanding woodlands which deserve wider recognition. Trees and woods are vital in shaping a more sustainable future and in particular we have seen some really innovative schemes in our towns and cities, home to 80 per cent of England's population.
"Urban trees help cool and clean the air, create attractive settings for business and investment, improve the quality of life for people and provide places to exercise. We are delighted to support these awards which recognise achievement and also point the way forward."
Entries must be received by 4 March 2013, and judging will be held in May and June 2013. The woodland awards will be presented at an event during July.
Further details and entry forms are available by following the RFS Excellence in Forestry 2013 links at www.rfs.org.uk or contact Competition Co-ordinator Trefor Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 01824 704230.
Sponsors include: FC England, John Clegg & Co (Multipurpose (Duke of Cornwall) Award), Tubex (Silviculture) and woodlands.co.uk (Small Woodlands); Wood-Mizer UK (Small Woodlands);
PEFC UK Ltd and ECL Howard Watson Smith LLP (Schools).