Sophie Churchill OBE becomes President of the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) this week, taking over from Sir Jack Whitaker whose term of office comes to an end on September 30.
Sophie will be known by many as the former Chief Executive of the National Forest Company and before that for her work on regeneration in the Midlands. She is also Chair of the charity Tree Aid.
which helps villagers living in the drylands of Africa unlock the potential of trees to fight hunger and poverty.
She says: “I am most fortunate to become President at a time of ambition and positivity in the Society. We want to embed a culture of woodland management and the enjoyment of woods, through the Teaching Trees programme with children, through Future Foresters building the next professional generation and through Wise About Woods for all of us engaged with managing woodlands.
“If I have an aim for my Presidency it is that our educational (and therefore charitable) programmes will be strong, secure and making a difference, that we are making more impact through partnerships with others and that our membership is growing, enjoying the Society and supporting our wider charitable mission.
And she adds: ” I am committed to work in partnership with other organisations because forestry is a small and crowded sector and we must find the common ground rather than feel we need to defend our bit of turf. This will mean trying new approaches and seeing what is possible with others.”
Sophie will be the first female President of the RFS. Paying tribute to her predecessors, Sophie says: “It is a privilege to succeed Sir Jack Whitaker and before him Nick Halsey, both of whom have exuded wisdom and commitment and who have greatly encouraged me during my time as Vice President and President Elect.”
Her first day as President will be spent chairing the morning session of the Resilient Woodlands: Meeting the challenges conference being hosted jointly by the RFS and Woodland Trust on 1 Oct at the National Motorcycle Museum.