A GROUP of 'thoughtful, articulate and passionate' young people have been rewarded for their 'writing excellence' on the topic of forestry at a reception at Westminster.

Lorna Johnson, a Masters student at Harper Adams University and graduate agricultural consultant with ADAS, was named the winner of the first 'Future of Forestry' writing prize, organised by trade body Conford. The 22-year-old won £500 and was presented with her cheque by Forestry Minister David Rutley MP at the Westminster reception.

Sandy Davidson, a forest management student at the Scottish School of Forestry in Inverness, won £250 for second place, while Rob Coltman and David Pelly of Tiilhill Forestry – based in Kent and central Scotland respectively – were placed joint third, receiving £100 each. All four winners also received signed certificates.

The topic they were asked to write on was: ‘How can forestry and wood processing help deliver a Green Brexit and a more sustainable society in the UK?’

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said: “We were delighted with the response to the competition and there could have been many more winners from the entries received. They were excellent young ambassadors for our industry – thoughtful, articulate and passionate about the future of forestry – a future which looks very bright to me.”

Mr Rutley, who took over responsibility for forestry earlier this year, commented: “There is a growing interest in forestry in parliament and real opportunities as we leave the EU. The concept of public money for public goods provides new levers which we can use to bring forestry to the fore."