Andrew Woods, President of the Royal Forestry Society, founded in 1882, referred to the Society’s mission as being to ‘inspire passion and excellence in woodland management’ when he spoke to Pershore Rotary at the Railway Inn, Defford.

Andrew explained that the RFS is the largest and longest established education charity promoting the wise management of woods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with the aim of helping people and businesses achieve their ambitions in tree management and forestry.

The RFS has a diverse membership in excess of 3,500 members including woodland owners, professional foresters, conservationists, students etc. The production forestry and timber processing industry is worth some £18 billion annually to the UK economy, employing some 17,000 people in production forestry and another 27,000 in primary wood processing. We currently import timber to the value of £7.8 billion pa, making us the second largest net importer after China.

Back in the 1970s, when elm trees were being felled due to disease, the private sector woodland owners made good money. Branch wood was sent to mills in Chepstow for paper manufacturing and wood burning stoves became popular in homes. However, without elms, LPG became popular as heating fuel in rural areas and woodlands became less financially viable. Now, with timber values increasing, wood fuel is replacing pulp mills and the wood burner market is buoyant again.

However, there are problems ahead for woodlands and particularly oak trees. The ‘Action Oak’ initiative is attempting to raise £15 million for research into safeguarding woodland oaks from disease. The project is supported by the Prince of Wales.

If you would like to know more about Rotary in the community and the challenge it’s been given to plant one new tree for every Rotarian worldwide, please contact Bob Marchant at or on 07850 996732.