A student from Bangor University has won a special award given in memory of Phil Johnson, a fondly remembered Tilhill member of staff.
Cameron Pellett from Kent has won the Tilhill Phil Johnson Memorial Award for Best Silviculture Student 2019/20 for his MSc Silviculture module at Bangor University.
He was presented with a specially carved wooden trophy in the shape of an acorn by Tilhill’s Regional Manager for Wales, David Edwards along with £250 prize money, presented for the first time in an online webinar format.
As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill presents awards to top performing forestry students at leading universities offering degrees in Forestry. Tilhill also runs a much respected graduate placement scheme to support graduates coming into the business.
Upon receiving his award, Cameron said: “Thank you David for presenting me with this award. I feel honoured, especially considering the calibre of my peers. It came as a huge surprise to hear I had won, and I am really grateful to Tilhill for supporting it.
“I am also thankful to all the forestry lecturers at Bangor University for the exceptional education I received. Just seeing the improvements I made over the duration of the silviculture module have shocked me to no end. The module culminated in a final essay on silviculture in a changing world. The topic I selected was chosen after a conversation with Sam Brown, one of Tilhill’s forest managers, and also a graduate of Bangor University. The largest problem he could foresee in British forestry was pests and disease —specifically, the green spruce aphid and the large pine weevil. So, I explored how these two pests were going to be influenced by the changing climate over the next 100 years, and how this will influence the growth of the UK’s dominant timber species —Sitka Spruce. This really characterises what I enjoyed about silviculture, all scientific disciplines have a focus, or model species —for my BSc in Biotechnology, that was the Agrobacterium, but what is unique about silviculture is the duration of time that comes into play with a focus on trees.
“After my undergraduate degree I spent a year working and living in India. It was there I was first exposed to forestry and where I realised my passion for forests could perform a role in society. So, upon returning home to Kent, I started looking for forestry courses, and after a unique philosophical conversation with Mark Rayment one of my lecturers, I was sold on studying there.
“As for my future, I still hope to enter the forestry sector as a forest and land manager. However, I have been offered a PhD position, which I am considering as a precursor, in light of remote sensing’s growing potential in forest management.”
David Edwards, Tilhill’s Regional Forestry Manager for Wales & Marches, who presented the award to Cameron, added: “It gives me great pleasure to present the award in memory of Phil Johnson to Cameron as the best silviculture student, it is always tinged with sadness when this award is made as I remember my colleague Phil fondly, but we have to look onwards and upwards and there has never been a more exciting time, in my opinion, to start a career in forestry and I wish Cameron all the luck in the future as I present Cameron virtually with this award.”
James Walmsley and Mark Rayment, Senior Lecturers in Forestry and MSC Course Directors at Bangor University added: “In typically modest style, when Cameron was informed that he had earned the highest overall mark in Bangor University’s MSc Silviculture module, and therefore had won the Phil Johnson Memorial Award for Silviculture, he said that he must have “got lucky” in the group work component (on the economics of thinning practices). Even if this were the case, it’s a truism to say that people create their own luck. Besides which, luck had nothing to do with the excellent work Cameron produced looking at the potential of species mixtures in UK upland settings.
Like the Award’s namesake, Phil Johnson, Cameron is an innovator and in what little spare time his MSc studies allow, he has been working on a relascope-based rangefinder for increasing the efficiency of the k-tree plot method of rapid forest inventory. Cameron readily adjusted to the COVID-induced curtailment of fieldwork for his practically-based dissertation, and is currently working on developing an improved statistical model of national forest cover for both deforesting and afforesting nations. His work should be a reminder that although forest cover is still declining globally, a resurgence of interest in forests and forestry means that many countries are experiencing a period of net afforestation, and now is an excellent time to embark on a career in Forestry.”
Forestry has been taught at Bangor for more than 110 years, and its forestry degrees are accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Tilhill has a long association with Bangor University as many of its past and present employees have studied there, including graduates from the distance learning forestry programmes.
The award is dedicated to Phil Johnson who worked for Tilhill for many years and was Regional Manager for England and Wales when he passed away following a short but valiant battle against cancer seven years ago. During his career he made a huge contribution to the company including setting up the UK’s largest privately owned mountain bike centre at Coed Llandegla, Wales.
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