A message from the DRST

Please see below a statement from our Chairman:

“ Due to COVID 19 restrictions DRST is currently unable to offer safe and effective courses and as such we have cancelled them until the end of 2020. We need the COVID restrictions to change such that Social Distancing is reduced to less than 1m, the need to wash hands regularly is removed/reduced and to enable people to mix more such that close instruction and the sharing of tools can be achieved. We will continue to monitor the situation on a monthly basis and will re-start Saturday Courses as soon as it is safe to do so.”

England Tree Strategy

We are really pleased to let you know that the England Tree Strategy is now out for consultation. A national e-alert was sent out last week which you can read here. We would be grateful if you would share the Strategy with any contacts who may be interested in commenting. 

The England Tree Strategy is being developed in parallel with other key strategies that flow from the 25 Year Environment Plan. These include the recent Tree Health Resilience Strategy and the forthcoming England Peat Strategy and Nature Strategy, as well the future Environmental Land Management Scheme which will operate on the basis of providing public payments for public goods.
For more information about the England Tree Strategy consultation and to submit your views please visit the consultation page.

There is a lot to read and consider in the consultation, so you may need to allow yourself a reasonable amount of time, but you can save your comments and come back to them later. The deadline for all comments is 11 September 2020

We would also like to draw your attention to another national e-alert which was issued last week that contains other interesting topics, including:  

·         new guidance for organisations who are considering their next steps after having declared a climate emergency

·         a new leaflet about trees and woodlands on farms

·         the first roles advertised for the new England Tree Planting Programme. If you have the skills and experience to shape this programme, follow the links in the e-alert for more information. 

With thanks, 

South West Area Team

Forestry Commission | South West England Region

Forestry Commission

Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust open for applications

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) will be accepting new applications for funding between 14 July and 24 August 2020. Talented and aspiring candidates can apply for up to £18,000 to further their education through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships or one-to-one training with master craftsmen. For further details and to apply please visit www.qest.org.ukDeadline for applications is 5pm, Monday 24 August.

QEST celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2020 and since 1990 has awarded over £4.5million to more than 550 individuals working in over 130 different crafts. QEST


Dear All,

In light of recent events surrounding the Coronavirus, our Chairman, with the agreement of the Committee, has decided to cancel all courses until September.
We thank you all for your understanding. Thankfully, due to the way the DRST is run, these events will not negatively impact on the DRST as an organisation and we will be in a very strong situation to continue our work once things have returned to normal.
Best wishes and good health to you all,
Jeremy Weiss

Course bookings and payment coordinator
Devon Rural Skills Trust

FC South West e-alert 7 February 2020: Tree Health event and updates

Tree Health Event

We have organised a free Tree Health update at Monks Yard in Ilminster on 3 March 2020, 10am – 3.15pm. The agenda will cover a topical update on tree health, biosecurity and woodland resilience in the South West, as well as workshops where you can ask questions in smaller groups. The agenda for the event is attached. Places are limited, so booking is essential using the link below. Please note that in previous years, places have booked very quickly for these events.

Woodland Resilience

We would like to introduce our new Woodland Resilience Officer, Chris Sorensen, who has taken up a new role in our national policy advice team, but remains based in the South West where he has a been a Woodland Officer for the last few years. Chris’s role will focus on disseminating best practice on woodland resilience, silviculture and restocking after issues such as Ash Dieback or other pests and diseases. He will be working through the forestry sector and other organisations with interest in woodland to raise awareness of the importance of species diversity, multi-structural woodlands and strategies to minimise the impacts of pests and diseases. Chris will be speaking at our Tree Health event in Ilminster.


International Year of Plant Health (IYPH)

The International Year of Plant Health is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development. Events are being organised around the world to celebrate the IYPH and to highlight the vital role of national and regional plant health organisations in protecting plants from damaging pests and diseases. You can find out more information by visiting the Plant Health Portal.

The UK has designated a new Plant Health Week from 20th to 27th April, which encompasses World Earth Day on 22nd April.

Ash Archive

Three thousand trees have been planted in Hampshire as part of a pioneering project by Defra to tackle Ash Dieback. The UK’s first Ash Archive has been established using £1.9 million of government funding and is the culmination of projects spanning 5 years to identify ash with a high tolerance to the disease. The archive is a major step towards maintaining and restoring ash in the British landscape. It is intended that it will provide the basis for a breeding programme of tolerant ash over time and will enable the development of orchards producing commercially available seed.

Summary of advice on Ash Dieback

Since there is so much need for advice on Ash Dieback currently, we include an updated version of the table sent in a previous e-alert, with the addition of some very useful guidance produced recently by the Arboricultural Association.

FC Guidance
Managing Ash Dieback in England (scroll down to “Latest”) Introductory Leaflet August 2019
Management of individual ash trees with Ash Dieback Operations Notes 7 Aug 2019
Managing Woodland SSSIs with Ash Dieback (FC/NE) 24 June 2019
Managing Ash in woodlands 20 Sept 2018
Ecological Impacts of Ash Dieback and Mitigation Leaflet July 2017
Other Guidance
Ash Dieback – Practice Guidance Arboricultural Association Nov 2019
10 Case Studies Royal Forestry Society July 2019
Ash Dieback – An Action Plan Toolkit Defra/Tree Council Feb 2019
Safety Guidance Note – Felling Dead Ash Forest Industry Safety Accord/Euroforest April 2018
ADB – Farmer Information Sheet NFU/FWAG/Devon Ash Dieback Resilience Forum Sept 2019


Kate Tobin

Local Partnership Advisor

Hedge comp and new arrival!

Can you add a note to Skills Online that the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale Hunt and Dorset Young Farmers Annual Hedging Competition will take place at Hydes Farm, Kings Stag, Sturminster Newton on Sunday 1st of March 2020. Details from Peter Fitzgerald on 01747 840 895 or Charlie Mayo on 07980 851 273

Also Congratulations to Laura Tunstall and Jon Gaskins on the safe arrival of Hecate Wren on Tuesday 21st of January. She weighed 7 lbs 6 oz.