March 1, 2023

MD, Tom Barnes, brings home the Confor Changing Attitudes Award

We’re delighted that Tom Barnes, our MD, has been presented with the Confor Changing Attitudes Award. This award recognises an individual, business or organisation that’s promoting the forestry and wood sector in a positive, impactful way.  Tom was presented with the award by Trudy Harrison MP, the Minster for Natural Environment and Land Use. 



We’re all proud of Tom. But he’s the first to say our work is about much more than winning awards. It’s the commitment to our mission and ongoing collaborative efforts that make the biggest impact.

If the award has taught us anything, it’s this. Our mission to encourage the use of British timber is more vital than ever. For us, for you, for anyone who cares about our forests, economy and health.


The steps we’re taking to change attitudes, together

Changing attitudes – and encouraging people to support local forests – requires many hands and minds. Which is why the Vastern team is engaging with community projects, nature lovers, landowners, innovators and farmers. 

We’re committed to bringing people together, so we can find effective ways to help more local woodlands and communities thrive.

Here are three ways we’re making this happen.


  1. Wood for the Trees video series

In 2019, Tom and film-maker Charly Le Marchant got together to start Wood for the Trees. A video series exploring the future of British trees, timber and woodland.

Although there are many challenges in this space, the series isn’t all doom and gloom. Tom and Charly celebrate the wonders of our local woodlands and get to the heart of some tough questions.

To date, the series has covered a whole host of topics. This includes the benefits of tree planting, the need for better woodland management, health benefits of trees, carbon sequestration, rewilding – and more.

Wood for the Trees has over 70,000 views, and we’re hoping it will continue expanding people’s understanding of the value in our woodlands.


  1. The National Wood Strategy

Right now, Tom and Andy Leitch, the Deputy Chief Executive of Confor, are writing The National Wood Strategy for England (NWSE). 

The strategy will outline the necessary steps for increasing wood productivity in Britain. Alongside this, it will show how growth in this sector can contribute positively to net zero, biodiversity gain, housing and health. The document is due for publication this spring. 


  1. 1% Woodland Tax

In January 2022, we pledged to use at least 1% of Vastern Timber’s annual turnover to support those who are helping British woodlands. We named it the 1% Woodland Tax.

Here are just three of the brilliant organisations we’ve been privileged to support. 


Project Grow – (pictured) a forest school for teenagers who are not in work or education. With help from our funds, the team was able to set up a new outdoor education area for young people, to boost their skills and confidence.


Paradise Wood mapping project – here, our funding is supporting broadleaf woodland research. The team is carrying out trials in this young forest to build a better understanding of what’s growing, where and why.


GiB Techscope AI Project – we’re helping Grown in Britain to work with specialist technology companies. The aim is to develop products that can meet the needs of the forestry and land management sector today – and in the future.


Moving forward

We hope that winning this award will help raise awareness of our work – and the great projects that like-minded people are running across the country.

After all, it’s only by working together that we can create bigger and better British woodlands for all. 



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