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Forestry Apprentices Celebrate Success

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L-R - Rupert Clarkson (Bicton College), Tom Houlden, Jon Lukins, Stuart Taylor, Richard Shelston (Apprentice Supervisor - FC), (David West (Development Manager, FC)

Three young people in East Devon and Somerset are celebrating after gaining valuable qualifications and hands on work experience in Forestry and Arboriculture as part of a pilot apprentice scheme run by the Forestry Commission, Silvanus Trust and Bicton College.

Stuart Taylor, Tom Houlden and Jon Lukins were presented with certificates by Pam Warhurst, Chair of the Forestry Commission at a ceremony on 27 October 2011.

Since completion of the apprentice programme, Stuart and Jon have secured fixed term appointments with the Forestry Commission whilst Tom has secured a full time role with Clinton Devon Estates.    

Clinton Devon Estates were one of three private employers who were involved in the delivery of the scheme – the others were Forest Fuels and Kleen Kut. 

The Forestry Commission provided funding for the scheme along with ‘Making it Local’, a five-year £2.4 million, locally managed grants scheme in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty incorporating funding from the EU, Defra and Leader

Bicton College managed the academic qualifications and assessments.  All three apprentices have achieved NVQ Level 2 in forestry along with a host of professional competency certificates. 

Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair says:

“Forestry is at the heart of our aspirations for a green economy. It is great to be working in partnership with these organisations to invest in the foresters of the future.  I was really impressed by Stuart, Jon and Tom's enthusiasm and commitment, and I am delighted that the excellent success of these inspirational young people has demonstrated that an apprenticeship scheme can lead to a rewarding career and future in forestry. 

John Wilding, Head of Forestry & Environmental Economy at Clinton Devon Estates says:

“We have had a very positive experience of the apprenticeship scheme and view it as an exemplar of partnership working.  It is great to see the apprentices grow in skills and confidence and contribute to addressing the skills gap we have within the forestry sector.”

Jon Lukins, one of the apprentices says:

“I have always wanted to work outside and the apprenticeship scheme gave me the chance to do this whilst building up my knowledge.  It was fantastic to be given the opportunity to learn the trade on the job whilst gaining some real qualifications and skills.”



  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  Further information can be found at

  2. Making it Local is a five year grants fund offering up to £100,000 support for projects that make the most of the outstanding landscape and local skills and bring long lasting prosperity and economic benefit to the area.  The programme has two funding schemes; the Main Grants Fund (£10,000-£100,000) and the Small Grants Fund (£1,000-£10,000). The Programme area covers East Devon AONB and Blackdown Hills AONB (see attached map).

  3. Funding of £2.4m has been secured for Making it Local from the Rural Development Programme for England.  Decisions are made locally by a Local Action Group. The Making it Local Team are employed by Devon County Council and are based within the two Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offices of East Devon and Blackdown Hills. For further information please contact the Making it Local team on 01823 680626, or email

  4. Making it Local is a locally managed grants scheme in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon AONB areas incorporating funding from the EU, Defra, South West RDA and Leader."

  5. Clinton Devon Estates comprises three separate estates, the Beer and Clinton Estates in East Devon and the Heanton Estate in North Devon.  In addition to traditional farming and forestry operations, the Estates encompass 2,800 acres of the East Devon Pebblebed heaths, three business parks, residential property and a number of small businesses.  The Estates remain a family concern and our commitment to the county of Devon and the wider South West region of England underpins all activity, long term planning and purpose.

  6. Kleen Kutt have been successfully involved in the forestry industry for over 20 years harvesting timber in the South West.  They are totally independent and hold a FSC COC Certificate.  They supply all the major sawmills in the region, including BSW, Kronospan, Pontrilas, Charltons, and Duchy etc.  They have been instrumental in the thinning and upkeep of conservation sites, with the Forestry Commission and also with the Somerset Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust.

  7. Forest Fuels in the woodchip and wood pellet supplier to South West England.  They supply woodfuel for biomass heating from the Lizard, to Poole, Bristol and everywhere else in between.  All of their woodchip is locally sourced, processed and stored at one of their depots in Cornwall, South Devon, North Devon, Dorset or South Gloucestershire.  This ensures the fuel they provide has a very low carbon footprint and is a sustainable renewable energy source.

  8. The Silvanus Trust is working through partnerships to regenerate the woodlands in the South West for economic, social and environmental benefits.  They influence policy for sustainable and viable woodlands, support those with an interest in or working in wood and woodlands, support the South West wood industry to promote a sustainable woodland economy and research and promote best practice.

  9. Bicton College is a leading land-based college set within an area of outstanding natural beauty in the heart of Devon.  The grounds comprise 200 hectares of open parkland and rolling countryside; a majestic Georgian manor house overlooks the beautiful lake and sites alongside the latest in modern facilities and equipment.  It is the perfect setting for the range of land-based courses that are available from entry level to higher education in a number of subject areas including agriculture, countryside management and arboriculture, environment, equine studies, horticulture and outdoor leisure.