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NEWS RELEASE No: 136461 JUNE 2010

Long service foresters awarded at Devon County Show

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long service awards

Foresters from the Forestry Commission’s Peninsula district, which covers Devon, Cornwall and Somerset were honoured for their long-term contributions to local forestry excellence, at the Devon County Show on Friday 21 May.

Nick Best and Pete Verney received their Long Service Awards from Sir John Cave, president of the Devon County Agricultural Association. 

The Long Service Award from the Devon County Agricultural Association recognises employees with more than thirty years’ service in the fields of Devon's agricultural, horticultural and forestry.

Nick Best, born just outside Exeter, joined the Forestry Commission in September 1974 after studying forestry for a year in Sweden and then completing a three-year forestry course at Newton Rigg, now part of the University of Cumbria. 

His first posting for the Commission was as Forester at Halwill Forest in North Devon where he was part of a team of 40.  He spent six years at Halwill before completing a six-year ‘specialist tour of duty’ in Forest Research.  He then returned to his original patch at Halwill as harvesting forester and five years later was promoted to Head Forester in the Somerset and South Devon District.  This later merged with the North Devon and Cornwall District to form today’s Peninsula District.

Since 2001, Nick has been Operations Manager this means he has overall responsibility for all forest management issues across Devon as well as in Cornwall and Somerset.  This includes responsibility for harvesting operations, sustainable land management and working with all Area Foresters to ensure that all the forests in the district are managed effectively. 

Nick is also a steward for the Devon County Show and sits on the Woodland Section committee.

Working for the Forestry Commission is a family affair for Pete Verney whose father, also Pete Verney worked for the organisation for over 40 years. 

Pete joined the Commission in 1964 as a forest worker.  After leaving for a few years to work in agriculture he rejoined the Commission at Haldon Forest near Exeter in 1974.

He spent 15 years working as a chainsaw operator before completing a part time forestry course at Newton Rigg.  He then worked for a few years on a Forestry Commission contract with the Highways Agency to plant and maintain trees alongside major roads such as the A38, before returning to the woods covering both Haldon and Dartmoor forests as Work Supervisor. 

In 1999 Pete moved full time to Dartmoor in his supervisory role before getting his ‘dream job’ as Area Forester for Dartmoor and Plym, a role he had until 2009, when he took partial retirement.  He now continues to work part time for the commission in Devon as a planning forester, working on a range of things including production forecasting.

Commenting on his years at the Forestry Commission Nick Best says: “I consider myself very fortunate in my career choice as there has never been a day when I haven’t wanted to come to work. 

“Many people associate with a particular forest as somewhere they like to relax and spend time with their family but most don’t realise that without careful management their favourite woodland would be a very different place.  Over the years the Forestry Commission’s remit has changed from one of pure timber production to a much wider and more varied one. 

"Whilst we still have a focus on the production of high quality UK timber we also now manage our forests with other priorities in mind such as providing good habitats for wildlife, creating outstanding recreational opportunities for people and enhancing our landscape.  We have some beautiful forests in the South West and I am very proud to be part of the team who looks after them.”

Nick and Pete were not the only Forestry Commission staff to win awards at the show.  Ben Philipps, Area Forester for Dartmoor and Plym also received a bronze medal in the Devon Woodland competition for a stand of Douglas Fir in Cann Woods in Plympton.

Photo shows Pete Verney(left) and Nick Best

Kirstie Smith, Communications Manager, Forestry Commission on 01392 834249.