The Arboricultural Association (AA) is thrilled to announce that the winner of this year’s AA Award is Jill Butler. In recognition of her significant and positive contribution to the arboricultural profession, Jill was presented with the award by AA chair Michelle Ryan at a surprise, socially distanced visit to Windsor Great Park on Wednesday 30 September. We hope that everyone in the industry will join us in congratulating Jill on this well-deserved achievement and in sending thanks for her ongoing contributions to the industry. You can watch the official presentation video, and find out more about Jill below.
Watch Jill’s presentation at Windsor Great Park.
About Jill Butler, 2020 Arboricultural Association Award Winner
After helping to build the countryside department of Merrist Wood into one of international standing, Jill pursued her passion for ancient and veteran trees and ancient forests, wood pastures and parkland by working her way through the ranks of the Woodland Trust. Here she instigated and oversaw many projects, including the very successful Ancient Tree Hunt. Jill was part of the group which founded the first Ancient Tree Forum, on whose board she now serves.
In partnership with Ted Green, Jill encouraged the conservation pioneers Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree to re-wild their estate at Knepp in a project which has become one of global renown. Jill continues to work on the Knepp project through regular tree safaris. During a meeting with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, he offered to host a prestigious reception for Woodland Trust owners. Jill is now also a key player in the Forest of Selwood Project which encourages local landowners to restore historic habitats.
Jill is a well-known speaker and regularly features in international events and conferences, where she is acknowledged as a highly-effective representative of UK arboriculture, building international links and collaborating with partners around the world. She helps organise Trees Romania, which gives wider recognition of the importance of Romania’s ancient trees and has participated in four study tours to the Bialowieza National Park in Poland. Jill is a strong proponent of the work of Frans Vera and the dynamic European forest theory and is an effective communicator of these important – and sometimes controversial – ideas through presentations, articles and on social media.
In 2019 Jill became a qualified VetCert Consultant through the Arboricultural Association and has done much to promote and support this new accreditation. She is a keen surveyor and verifier for the Ancient Tree Inventory, a citizen science project run by the Woodland Trust which records the ancient trees of the UK so that they can be better understood and protected. Jill is a Chartered Arboriculturist and a Trustee of the Tree Register of the British Isles, as well as being a regular contributor to industry publications including the Association’s ARB Magazine. Her most recent article was in Autumn 2020 with a piece about the value of tree and shrub species to wildlife, with Keith Alexander and Ted Green. In May 2020 Jill delivered an extremely well-received Arboricultural Association webinar entitled Let there be light – ancient British Forests, wood pastures, parkland and open-grown trees which has since been watched by almost 1000 people.
Jill has long been an inspiration to many of us working in arboriculture and urban forestry, and has always worked to help and encourage others in the industry – both in the UK and internationally – by sharing her knowledge and experience of a wide range of roles in the sector. She has also been highly effective in bringing together different disciplines and interests and offering new perspectives to those working in arboriculture, particularly with regard to ancient and veteran trees and the importance of open-grown trees. Jill has done a significant amount of work – often unheralded – to benefit the arboricultural industry over a number of years and is a worthy winner of the Arboricultural Association Award 2020.
On receiving the Award Jill reflected:
“I’m so thrilled to receive this Arboricultural Association Award; I’m taken aback, and I’m really surprised. I feel so privileged to have joined that group of very special people who have received this award before who have worked so hard for trees. I think it is a sign that that the Arboricultural Association has shown the breadth of interest in trees to recognise my work with ancient trees, but also the ecology of ancient trees and the history of trees as well. I’d love to work more with the association to further develop our understanding of tree ecology and history; and how they can inform our work in a much better way.”