For the love of trees: photographers capture forest magic

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The winning entry: Warm Dawning, the winning entry in the national Responsible Wood photo competition, entry by Fiona Ford showing young regrowth spotted gum trees on a property at Collombatti, west of Kempsey on the mid-NSW north coast.

Words: Jim Bowden

Three rural shutterbugs devoted to the Great Outdoors and each with a “long-time love of our forests, trees and timber” are the winning placegetters in the 2022 national Responsible Wood photo competition.

“The exceptional response to the competition from across Australia was truly heart-warming with more than 700 photographs – a record entry – competing for the three top positions,” Responsible Wood marketing and communications officer Jason Ross said.

“Indeed the rally call for photos taken in Responsible Wood certified forests illustrates the depth of the positive feeling for sustainable trees among many communities,” he said.

Individual entries lodged through Instagram attracted more than 6000 comments and 25,000 ‘likes’ and ‘shares’

The winning entry was a photo of young natural regrowth spotted gums (Corymbia citriodora variegata) captured by Fiona Ford on her Canon Eos 90D that splashed the warm colours of a sunrise across a property at Collombatti, west of Kempsey on the mid-NSW north coast, near the Responsible Wood-certified NSW Forestry Corporation state forest.

The entry also wins a $1000 cash prize and qualifies for entry in the 2022 PEFC International Photographer of the Year Award.

Fiona and her husband David have planted all types of trees including ornamentals, pines and young eucalypts across their property that blend with well-established mature hardwoods.

“We love everything about trees … their purity, strength and sustainability,” Fiona enthused. “In fact, more than people, trees and the birds and animals that live among them have always been my photographic favourites.

Born in Wooster, Cornwall, Fiona met and married her English husband in Australia. Both had arrived as children in 1959 under the ten-pound-pom assisted migrant program but on separate voyages and separate ships – Sitmar Line’s twin steam vessels the Fairsky and Fairstar. Years later as a married couple they settled and adapted quickly into the NSW countryside and are now in the process of renovating their timber and mud-brick home.


Second placegetter… mountain bike rider Charmaine Grobler who photographed a plantation of pines in the early morning behind Wild Horse Mountain in the Beerwah state forest.

Mountain bike rider Charmaine Grobler took second prize with a photo of plantation pines in the early morning behind Wild Horse Mountain in the Responsible Wood-certified Beerwah state forests on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Charmaine and partner Jerry, who live in Gympie, are full-time volunteers “for all causes” and enjoy introducing as many new friends as they can to bike-riding and walking through forests “that we reckon bring the magic of healing”.

Taking third spot in the contest was a winter entry from Ang Chandler who photographed her daughters walking through the Responsible Wood-certified Mount Cole state forest near the town of Beaufort in Western Victoria.

The main trees in the southern part of the forest are messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua), manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis), and blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus).

In the north, which is drier, there are yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora), and red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) with snow gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora). There is also the rare Mount Cole grevillea, (Grevillea montis-cole). On the high peaks there are groups of snow gums (Eucalyptus pauciflora)


Third prize… sisters walk through the snow-clad Responsible Wood-certified state forest at Mount Cole in western Victoria.

The second and third placegetters will also be entered in the international PEFC award.

Entries in the contest were assessed by a judging panel comprising Simon Dorries, CEO of Responsible Wood, David Rowlinson, Planet Ark Make It Wood campaign manager, and Jim Bowden, managing editor of the weekly on-line trade journal Timber&Forestry enews.

Simon Dorries said the contest theme enabled participants to submit photos that fitted the theme … ‘responsible forests, responsible certification’.

Entries embraced such diversified topics as forest landscapes, individual trees and plants, families hiking in the woods, from indigenous people to rural village life, from wooden buildings to photos of PEFC/Responsible Wood-labelled products.

More than 90% of Australia’s commercial forests are Responsible Wood certified and include state forests, plantation estates and those run by forestry agencies along with many privately-owned forests.

Jim Bowden is managing editor of the weekly on-line trade journal Timber&Forestry enews.

Reprinted with permission from Timber&Forestry enews, a weekly on-line trade journal. Learn more at





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