Dr Joan Webber, Principal Pathologist and Head of Tree Health Research Group at Forest Research, has become the tenth winner of the Peter Savill Award. Sponsored by Woodland Heritage, the award recognises significant contribution to the British Forest Industry and this year was presented at an event attended by Sir Harry Studholme, Chairman of the Forestry Commission, at Forest Research’s offices at Alice Holt, near Farnham.
The criteria for the Peter Savill Award are that the contribution to forestry made by the individual selected annually by the trustees of Woodland Heritage must be in sympathy with the charity’s objectives and in one of five areas of forestry: silviculture, marketing, education, wood processing and research; Dr Webber is the first recipient from the field of research.
“I have known Joan Webber almost since she started at Forest Research, in 1989. Since then the number of diseases that affect trees has increased tremendously; it is these recent arrivals that she concentrates on particularly,” said Dr. Savill, who presented the award this year and who had been a longstanding trustee of Woodland Heritage until his retirement in June. Continuing, Dr. Savill said: “Forest Pathology is likely to remain one of the most significant areas for research by FR for the foreseeable future, and the trustees are convinced that it will thrive under Joan Webber’s leadership.”
A graduate of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Dr Webber studied for her PhD in tree pathology at the University of Wales and the Forestry Commission. After a decade of lecturing and research focussed on Dutch elm disease and the interplay between tree pathogens and insect vectors, Dr Webber joined Forest Research in 1989. Principal Pathologist since 2001, Dr Webber is currently responsible for leading and managing research into the health of trees.
Past recipients of the Peter Savill Award reflect the breadth of the criteria and include influential foresters such as John McHardy and Bede Howell OBE, dynamic landowners such as Miles Barne and the late Felix Dennis, champions of wood processing such as Will Bullough and Gavin Munro, and renowned Bangor University lecturer and the inspiration for a generation of young foresters, Dr Christine Cahalan.
Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline.
Forest Research is the research agency of the Forestry Commission and Great Britain’s principal organisation for forestry and tree related research. Forest Research is internationally renowned for the provision of science, research, evidence, data and services in support of sustainable forestry. Forest Research works for many Government departments, the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, forestry and land management stakeholders, environmental non-Governmental organisations and in projects across Europe and internationally. Forest Research has 230 staff located in England, Scotland and Wales. For more information about Forest Research see www.forestry.gov.uk/forestresearch