Dr Jo Clark’s Herculean task rewarded with a golden recognition

Dr Jo Clark, Head of Research at the Future Trees Trust, has been awarded one of the highest honors in the forestry industry – the Royal Forestry Society (RFS) Gold Medal. She is the first person to receive this honor in nearly five years, and also the first woman to do so.

The prestigious award was presented to Dr Clark by RFS President Ben Herbert at the Future Trees Trust Supporters Day at Buscot and Coleshill Estates in Oxfordshire on Wednesday 15 May, 2024. The Future Trees Trust is a UK charity dedicated to improving broadleaved trees.

In his presentation, Herbert praised Dr Clark’s dedication and expertise in her field, stating, “Her contribution and knowledge of the future trees we should plant is immeasurable and without her and her work I think we would be at a loss to find what trees we should be planting for the future.”

John Leigh Pemberton, Chair of the Future Trees Trust, expressed his delight at Dr Clark’s well-deserved recognition, saying, “I am absolutely delighted Jo has been awarded this medal. She has been working largely on her own for 25 years and it takes a very special kind of person to do this. Her contribution to the UK’s forestry is huge.”

The citation for her award highlights Dr Clark’s tireless efforts to improve timber species in the UK. Her work involves liaising with landowners and foresters to identify the best “plus trees,” working with nurserymen, conducting progeny trials, and creating seed orchards with the finest genetics. This work is crucial for ensuring that future generations will have access to high-quality timber from UK woodlands.

Dr Clark’s impressive career in forestry began with the US Forest Service, where she focused on native species selection, tree breeding, and seed orchard management in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. She holds a BSc in Plant Biology, an MSc in Natural Resource Management, and a PhD from Bangor University for her work on the adaptation of Ash to climate change.

After eight years in the USA, Dr Clark joined the Northmoor Trust (later known as the Earth Trust) as the manager of their 40-acre research woodland at Paradise Wood. She joined the Future Trees Trust as Research Coordinator in 2013 and became Head of Research in 2018.

Dr Clark now joins an elite group of Gold Medal holders, with hers being the first to be presented since 2019. The last recipient was Geraint Richards, Head Forester for the Duchy of Cornwall, who received the award from Prince Charles.

Press release distributed by https://pressat.co.uk/.