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Professional Forester of the Year 2023 award – shortlist announced

The Institute of Chartered Foresters is delighted to announce the four shortlisted candidates for the inaugural Professional Forester of the Year, a prestigious new award recognising outstanding service to the profession and the sector.

This award recognises the contributions made by Chartered Foresters to the betterment of forestry on a community, regional, national or international level. Professional Forester of the Year is awarded on the basis of a specific project or a range of activities undertaken by a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters within the last three years.

The judging panel had their work cut out for them as they developed the four-person shortlist from nearly 30 impressive nomination submissions. Made up of four Institute Fellows, the judging panel included Steve McCartney FICFor (Chair), John Browne FICFor, Shireen Chambers MBE FICFor and Dr Mike Yerbury FICFor.

The shortlist for the Professional Forester of the Year is:

  • Jonathan Callis MICFor, Network Rail
  • David Hay MICFor, Scottish Forestry
  • Andrew Heald MICFor, NGPTA and Andrew Heald Consulting Ltd
  • Paul Nolan OBE MICFor, Mersey Forest

The inaugural winner of the award will be announced at the Confor Dinner & Awards in Edinburgh on 28 February 2023.


Jonathan Callis MICFor
Senior Asset Engineer, Network Rail

Jonathan is one of the few Chartered Foresters working in the rail industry, respected for his wealth of knowledge and work representing both Network Rail and the Institute. Instrumental in setting policy and providing direction for the management of lineside vegetation, Jonathan demonstrates a pragmatic approach to the sustainable management of trees and woodland alongside an expansive infrastructure network. He performs his role under significant scrutiny – not only does he have to showcase competent tree management to the general public, but also to his colleagues whose knowledge of trees may be minimal. Judges were impressed by the support Jonathan’s colleagues gave to his application, his work in promoting Technical membership of the Institute, and his active engagement with colleagues in the railway industry.

David Hay MICFor
Woodland Officer, Scottish Forestry

David’s nomination highlighted his vast experience in the sector, showcasing his work across the UK and internationally in both private and public sectors. He has been a dedicated forestry advocate for more than 30 years, with a passion for trees and woodland that shone through in his nomination. David’s significant expertise includes commercial landscaping, leading on complex woodland creation schemes, harvesting, grants and regulations, policy and processing. He is widely known for sharing his knowledge, mentoring several new woodland officers in Scottish Forestry and also promoting the sector to the general public at schools and careers events. The judges were impressed by the continued commitment David has shown to the sector and his willingness to continually learn and share knowledge with colleagues.

Andrew Heald MICFor
NGPTA and Andrew Heald Consulting Ltd

A champion of sustainable forestry, Andrew uses his wide-ranging social media presence to challenge and debunk myths and wrongful impressions of forestry with considered, evidence-based responses. Andrew’s reach extends well beyond the sector, using his significant influence to also comment supportively on good practice and innovation across many areas of forestry operations. Given the importance of social media in reaching the next generation of forestry professionals, the judges were particularly impressed by the amount of work Andrew does in this area, the effort he goes to and the positive impacts he achieves. Andrew’s work in this area is done entirely in his own time, and it was unanimously agreed that the sector needs more influencers showing this level of initiative.

Paul Nolan OBE MICFor
Director, Mersey Forest

Paul’s name has become synonymous with community forestry in England. He has initiated, led and delivered the Trees for Climate tree planting programme, part of the Government’s £500m Nature for Climate Fund – a huge programme of works that has advanced the promotion of forests at both grass roots and urban levels, delivering more than 1000 hectares of new woodland in England. His quiet and competent approach belies the sheer scale and significance of this work. The judges were also impressed by Paul’s work in public engagement, which has increased significantly the understanding of what forestry and woodlands can offer to society. His networking with regional partners across England ensures many other areas benefit from his continued professionalism and hard work.

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