The head of a trust which manages more than half the land of one of Shropshire’s most-loved heritage sites has shared his insights with Harper Adams undergraduates.
Russell Rowley, the Chief Executive of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust, was invited to share his experiences and knowledge of social forestry with students by Lecturer in Forestry and Woodland Nick Covarr.
Russell has been a professional environmental forester and land manager for more than 50 years, with 16 of those as Chief Executive of the Trust, which is responsible for managing more than half the land at the Ironbridge Heritage site.
This work involves the maintenance of 60 historic structures, and more than 20 kilometres of footpaths – as well as the management of a diverse range of habitats including wildflower meadows, heathland and woodlands.
Russell was speaking to students across a range of courses during his lecture – with students on BSc (Hons) Environmental Land Management, BSc (Hons) Rural Enterprise and Land Management and BSc (Hons) Rural Property Management degrees all taking part.
Nick said: “Russell brought an incredible wealth of experience from his time involved in the development of the UK’s community forests in the early 1990s to the lecture – he has spent a career balancing the needs of local communities with the forest landscape.
“Our students are currently writing an assignment where they must design a woodland creation scheme incorporating economic, social and environmental objectives.
“Russell’s insights provided them with a light on how to balance these objectives, the value of engaging with local communities - and how not to repeat the mistakes made in the early days of community woodlands!
“We are very grateful to Russell for donating his time and sharing his energy and enthusiasm for woodland management with our students.”
And Russell added: “It was a pleasure to share some knowledge with the students who asked some interesting questions.
“Severn Gorge Countryside Trust has an educational remit and has worked closely with Harper Adams University for many years to further knowledge and research about sustainable land management, farming and forestry.”