Our founder – Kenneth Watkins, OBE (1909-1996)

Kenneth Watkins

Woodland Trust founder Kenneth Watkins (Photo: M Lewis/WTML)

We are the UK's largest woodland conservation charity, but were established from humble beginnings in 1972.

Our founder was retired farmer and agricultural machinery producer Kenneth Watkins. He was alarmed at the decline of our woodland, spinneys and copses cleared in the drive to increase production. In the early 70s, together with his wife, friends and co-founders, Oliver Rossetti, Henry Hurrell, MBE, and Stanley Edgcumbe, they began work to address the plundering that our woods had suffered during the last century.

Within five years, Kenneth and his small team had acquired more than 22 woods in six different counties in south west England. Soon after, the Trust announced its ambitious aim to protect woodland throughout the UK and appointed its first full-time employee.

Ken was awarded the OBE in 1989 for his services to conservation and in 1995 the British Naturalists’ Association honoured him with the Sir Peter Scott Memorial Award.