Woodland Ecology & Conservation Student wins ‘Best Dissertation Award 2021

Jessica Wilson a Woodland Ecology and Conservation graduate from County Durham has won Tilhill’s 2021 Award for ‘Best Dissertation’ on the BSc (Hons) course at the University of Cumbria, home to the National School of Forestry.

The Award, a specially carved wooden trophy along with £250 prize money, was presented to Jess at an online public webinar by David Conway, Tilhill’s North & Central England Regional Manager.

Upon presenting the Award, David commented:

“It gives me great pleasure to present this award today to Jess Wilson. The University’s location is ideal for studying forests and woodlands and its degree course has a strong professional focus. From its Lake District campus students have access to ancient woodlands, mixed woodlands, and plantations.

“The increasing environmental, social, and economic importance of forests leads to exciting opportunities for graduates worldwide. We are thrilled to be able to offer Jess the award today and wish her all the best for the future.”


Upon receiving the Award, Jess said:

“I’d like to say a big thank you to Tilhill for providing this award, which I am very honoured to receive.

“I’m immensely grateful to the whole team at the National School of Forestry and in particular my course tutor and dissertation supervisor, Dr Andrew Weatherall, who’s support and guidance has been invaluable throughout my entire degree.

“I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to study in one of the most stunning areas of the UK, the Lake District National Park, and was privileged to conduct my dissertation fieldwork, Atlantic Oak woods at the highest elevation in England. It was my hope that by surveying these unique woodlands I would be able to further highlight their ecologically importance, while also highlighting how little is understood about the effects of woodland management on fungal communities.

“Through my degree I have gained a deeper understanding of the issues and opportunities surrounding sustainable land use and biodiversity loss in the UK and I am looking forward to broadening my abilities and experiencing first-hand how the concepts I have studied are put into practice. I have developed a strong foundation of skills and knowledge which I now hope to take forward and develop into a life-long career.”


Andrew Leslie, Senior Lecturer at National School of Forestry opened the online awards presentation in celebration of Jess’s award saying:

“Jess has been a brilliant student throughout her time with us and has made the most of every opportunity, studying for a semester and basing her placement in California. The Tilhill prize represents a recognition of her application and commitment to gaining forestry knowledge and experience. I would like to thank Tilhill for their continued support in offering this prize.“


Tilhill has a long association with Cumbria University as many of its past and present employees have studied there. The University’s location is ideal for studying forests and woodlands and its degree course has a strong professional focus.

As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill offers awards to top performing forestry students at leading universities which offer degrees in forestry related subjects. The company also runs a popular graduate placement scheme.


Watch the online award presentation: