Our Governance

The Institute of Chartered Foresters is governed by its Council, elected from within the Chartered membership and headed by the President and Vice President. There are two main committees - the Executive Committee and the Professional and Educational Standards Committee (PESC). The remit of each is set down in the Laws of the Institute. In addition, the Council have appointed a Professional Complaints Panel and an Examinations Board, both of which operate independently from the Council.

Geraint Richards MVO FICFor


Geraint is the Head Forester for the Duchy of Cornwall and to His Majesty The King. He is responsible for the management of the trees, woodlands and forests across the Duchy of Cornwall’s extensive land-holding and is involved with other estates associated with His Majesty The King. Geraint graduated in 1992, with a degree in Forestry from Bangor University in North Wales, and then worked for four years for the Forestry Commission before taking up his current position with the Duchy of Cornwall. Geraint is also involved with a wide range of tree-related organisations and initiatives, both nationally and internationally.

Geraint was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 2017 and, in 2019, he was awarded the Royal Forestry Society’s Gold Medal for distinguished services to forestry. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters.

Andrew Sowerby FICFor

Vice President

Graduating from Aberdeen in 2001, Andrew began his career with the Forestry Commission in South Wales. After 15 years in the public sector covering roles in Forest Planning, Harvesting & Marketing and Operational Support, Andrew joined Pryor & Rickett Silviculture in 2016 as a Forest Manager based in Brecon. He readily adjusted to serving private clients, charities and public bodies and winning competitive contracts which led to his appointment as a director in 2022.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Foresters, the chair of the Confor committee in Wales and coordinates Mbale Coed, a charity that supports tree planting in the Mbale region of eastern Uganda.

John Browne FICFor

Council Member

After receiving a BSc in Ecological Science from the University of Edinburgh, John’s academic journey continued at the University of Aberdeen, graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Forestry in 1990. He joined the Forestry Commission’s graduate entry fast stream programme and was awarded Professional membership of the Institute in 1994.

John’s work has taken him from Scotland to South England, North England to Wales, Edinburgh and back to Wales, where he is currently Senior Specialist Advisor Land at Natural Resources Wales. John has contributed greatly to the Institute where he has spoken at regional and national events, submitted articles for TREES magazine and was previously an elected Council member from 2018-2022.

Michael Cresswell FICFor

Council Member

Michael began his journey in the sector studying Forestry at Bangor University, culminating in a Master’s degree. Following a year in the Highlands and Islands with Scottish Forestry, he returned to Wales and initially worked in land management for Natural Resources Wales and more recently in forest operations. This is where he leads a team undertaking planning, harvesting and establishment on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate in Mid Wales. Mike is an Institute Council member and was awarded Fellowship of the Institute in 2023. He is also on the Inaugural Executive Board for the Global Network for Forestry Young Professionals.

Craig Harrison FICFor

Council Member

Craig works for Forestry England as South District Forest Management Director and Deputy Surveyor of the New Forest. His 30 years of experience include forest and land management, private sector woodlands and urban forestry. He became a Chartered Forester 20 years ago and a Fellow of the Institute in 2016. Craig is keen to assist thinking on attracting new talent into the sector and skills development – the current forestry agenda is so exciting but needs more professional expertise. His experience of talent attraction and staff development programmes will be of value to the Institute and sector.

Dr Gary Kerr FICFor

Council Member

Gary is the Principal Silviculturist in Forest Research based at Alice Holt Lodge in Surrey.  From 2001-2021, he held the honour of being Editor-in-Chief of Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, the Institute’s scientific journal published by Oxford University Press.  He has worked in Forest Research for most of his career focussing on applied forest science with a special interest in continuous cover silviculture and species diversification.  During his career, he has been a Research Group Leader with the International Union of Forest Research Organizations and is currently vice-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Forest Institute. Gary is currently Chair of the Institute’s Professional and Educational Standards Committee and is Commissioning Editor for the Royal Forestry Society’s Quarterly Journal of Forestry.

Andrew Vaughan FICFor

Council Member

Andrew is the North Scotland region manager for Tilhill Forestry, responsible for a team of 36 staff managing 80,000ha across 250 forest properties north of the Central Belt. With over 34 years industry experience in all aspects of forestry across Scotland and the UK, he has served as an exam assessor since 2006 and is committed to increasing the professionalism and relevance of the Institute to the forest industry and wider society.

Peter Wilson FICFor CEnv

Council Member

With over 34 years of UK and international experience, Peter’s strengths lie in developing strong strategic visions, innovative problem-solving, influencing public policy, implementing institutional change, building multi-stakeholder partnerships and in leading and publicly representing organisations. He initially worked to support commercial reforestation projects in Jamaica and the Solomon Islands, then returned to the UK to pursue his interest in working at a strategic level to influence public policy. He took a leadership role for 16 years with the Timber Growers Association and Forest Industries Development Council and was interim Executive Director of the Institute in 2005 and 2006. Peter led the UKWAS partnership through three standard revisions. He is currently Principal of Wilson Applied Consultancy.

Brendan Callaghan MICFor

Council Member

Brendan is the Interim CEO of Environmental Standards Scotland. He was previously Head of Operational Delivery with Scottish Forestry, responsible for key government forestry and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) programmes including the Climate Change Plan tree planting target and the £60m per annum Forestry Grant Scheme. Brendan has a strong track record of working with environmental and industry stakeholders to develop and lead environmental initiatives, has led Scottish Forestry’s stakeholder group since 2013 and was previously Chair of the Red Squirrels Northern England partnership. Prior to this Brendan held a range of senior roles within the Forestry Commission, including Area Director for South West England and Conservator for North East England. He has a degree in Ecological Science from Edinburgh University.

Ben Clinch MICFor CEnv

Council Member

Ben’s 30-year forestry career has taken him all around the UK. A Chartered Forester since 2005, he has been involved with establishing and harvesting productive timber, restoring native woodland, implementing landscape­-scale native woodland expansion, and strategic land use planning. For the last 10 years, he has managed forestry operations for Moray Estates across their holdings in Moray, Highland and Stirling. He oversees a team of six field staff who undertake forest establishment and maintenance operations, deer management, and fuel wood production. The annual cut is approximately 20,000m3 per annum, derived primarily from regular thinning operations. Ben is a member of the Scottish School of Forestry’s Industry Advisory Committee and has been an Institute Regional Group Committee member since 2007.

Ben Gunneberg MICFor

Council Member

An Aberdeen university forestry graduate; former research officer at Bangor University, Ben worked as Technical Director of the Timber Growers Association before moving abroad to establish and lead the PEFC Council, the world’s largest forest certification scheme, based in Geneva. He is passionate about promoting both SFM, and the urban and rural tree growing profession, in the UK and abroad, at a time when the world’s most pressing challenge is climate change. Ben brings 30 years’ experience of cross-sectorial,  multistakeholder engagement to the Institute to further position itself with global partners to influence the direction society takes to address this challenge.

Elaine Harrison MICFor

Council Member

Elaine did not come from the conventional route, she came from commercial horticulture, using her contract management skills and BSc in Countryside Management, transferring these skills to gain a job with Natural Resources Wales as a harvesting contract manager. Following this, Elaine learnt to manage establishment contracts as well as planning coupes. She has managed a forestry programme for clearfell, thinning and establishment, and is now a team leader in forest operations, managing a team of eight foresters.

Alongside working full time, she studied at Bangor University for a MSc in Forestry, as well as gaining Chartered Forester status in 2022.

Jo O’Hara MICFor

Council Member

After graduating from Edinburgh University with a degree in Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economy, Jo has spent her whole career in forestry and land use. From operational supervisory work in the Lake District and Kielder; to forest planning and GIS development across England, Wales and Scotland; to developing government policy on CAP reform and agri-environment, and ultimately as a Forestry Commissioner and lead forestry advisor to the Scottish Government. Jo currently manages her own consultancy business working on a range of projects across the UK and Europe, and is also a non-executive Director of the low-carbon charity Changeworks.

Harry Wakefield MICFor

Council Member

Harry is Head Forester of the Holkham Estate in Norfolk, managing 1,000 hectares of woodland. He is a Chartered Forester and professional member of the Arboricultural Association. Harry is a proud supporter of the Forestry sector and is involved in forest policy and economics, silvicultural practices, woodland certification, health and safety management, biosecurity threat management and forester trainee programmes.

Sonia Winder MICFor CEnv

Council Member

Passionate about trees all her life, Sonia followed her degree from agricultural college with an MSc in Environmental Forestry from Bangor University. Apart from a graduate post with Norfolk County Council, Sonia has spent all her career in the private sector and has worked for Tilhill in Wales since 1996. Having been a Chartered Forester for 24 years, Sonia decided it was time to give something back to our professional body through Council. Sonia’s work over the years has included everything from landscaping, utility arboriculture and land restoration, to woodland management and veteran trees. She’s found the variety of work, and the breadth of our profession, always stimulating and is excited to see the potential for trees to provide multiple public benefits being recognised now more than ever.

Stephen Campbell FCA

Council Member

Stephen graduated from Oxford University with a geography degree and subsequently qualified as a Chartered Accountant. After nearly 30 years working in finance and governance roles, mainly in investment management, Stephen decided to focus his career on the forestry sector. He is involved in the management of a forestry business in Northumberland and is a Student member of the Institute, studying for a masters degree in forestry. He is also a member of the Royal Forestry Society and the Continuous Cover Forestry Group.

Executive Committee

Geraint Richards MVO FICFor, President

Andrew Sowerby FICFor, Vice President

Louise Simpson, Executive Director and Secretary

Dr Stuart Glen, Member Services Director

Denise Camilleri, Finance Director

Stephen Campbell, Council member with responsibility for finance

Professional and Educational Standards Committee

Dr Gary Kerr FICFor, Chair

Examinations Board

Alex Murray FICFor, Chair

Professional Complaints Panel

John Warren, Chair

Educational & Scientific Trust

Chris Inglis FICFor, Chair

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