Spotlight on … Charlotte Williams, South East Estate Manager
The Woodland Trust is a big family network, with every cog in the wheel playing a vital role. This time, we discover more about an adventurous woman with a very busy job in looking after woods and trees in the region. Over to you, Charlotte!
“I joined the Woodland Trust in January 2019 and, having studied and worked in the southeast, it’s good to be working across the most wooded region. The south east region includes south London, Surrey, Kent, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and covers the South Downs National Park and the Surrey Hills, High Weald, Kent Downs and Chiltern Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
I live in London which is perfect for travelling around the south east region but I grew up in Somerset so spent most of my childhood and teenage years either on horseback, being covered in mud, making dens or looking for newts and slow-worms! I took a year out and spent a year in South America before going to the University of Sussex to study Geography and Environmental Studies with Development Studies. My degree and dissertation project included trips to Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra so I spent a lot of time in virgin and secondary tropical rainforests. After graduation and in need of money, I began silver-service waitressing for the Royal Family (as you do!) and volunteered in a nature reserve park in south east London, which led me to the career I’m now in today.
I then trained as a botanist and surveyed land across the Malvern Hills AONB, worked for various Local Authorities in all aspects of land management and Surrey Wildlife Trust as an Area Countryside Manager for 10 years. Here I had direct responsibility of a team of 8 rangers and approximately 3,000 hectares of woodlands, grasslands, heathlands and wetlands. My last position was with The Royal Parks where I was part of the management team at Richmond Park SSSI/NNR, and had the pleasure of managing the open areas of the park, the woodlands and working with all the ancient and veteran trees as well as the Friends of Richmond Park and all the volunteers.
My current role involves managing, supporting and advising the team of ten dedicated Site Managers and Assistant Site Managers who have direct responsibility for managing all of our woodlands across the region. I have overall responsibility for the sites, the budget, health and safety and compliancy with FSC accreditation. I attend UK Estate Manager Meetings, sit on the Wildlife Management Specialist Group, Oak Processionary Moth, Ash Dieback and Biking Working Groups to represent the southeast region and to develop guidance, practice notes, policies and strategies. I am also part of the Langley Vale Wood Project Team and am currently covering the Site Manager role as well so things are particularly busy at the moment!
In my spare time (not that there’s much of it these days!), I like to keep fit and cycle, run, walk and kayak and train to do at least one challenge a year for a chosen charity. Being in London, I also like to take full advantage of what it has to offer so enjoy looking around exhibitions, art galleries, museums, going to gigs and festivals or eating my way around the world! When I finally keep still, I’m usually looking at maps and guide books to plan my next adventure both near and far, as the ‘itchy feet’ are now incurable!”
Thank you, Charlotte, for all that you do in the region and for your thoughtful input to this article!