An Interview with Tim Rowland, Chief Executive Officer at the Future Trees Trust

Future Trees Trust CEO Tim Rowland

Tell us about your background and what led you to become CEO for Future Trees Trust?

I spent 12 years working as a Corporate Fundraiser for Cancer Research UK and 15 years before that as a Geotechnical Engineer. Following Cancer Research UK’s re-location of offices, I left my role in 2011 to pursue the opportunity as Development Officer at Future Trees Trust. I am now the CEO and can proudly say I am growing the charity’s income considerably and we have employed three members of staff.

What attracted you to work for Future Trees Trust?

I was intrigued by the work of Future Trees Trust – it makes perfect sense to try to produce healthy, productive majestic broadleaved trees. I love the countryside and especially woodlands, so being able to use my skills and experience of fundraising and charity development whilst working with incredibly clever people to help ensure a future for our woodlands was hugely appealing.

What does your job role entail?

In addition to ensuring that we have all the funding we need to do our work and can continue to operate, I manage the governance of the charity – creating HR policies, reporting to the Charity Commission and managing the other members of staff (who actually do all the clever stuff).

I work on liaising with everyone that has an interest in our research, developing partnerships with stakeholders and corporate supporters. I keep our donors informed with progress reports and updates whilst researching potential new donors. I also provide secretariat support to the National Tree Improvement Strategy; an umbrella organisation uniting everyone with an interest in tree improvement.

What do you think are the biggest breakthroughs in tree improvement in the last 10 years?

I think the biggest breakthrough is the use of genomic selection to reduce the time of tree improvement programmes. These techniques have had and will continue to have a huge impact on tree breeding programmes, as individual genes associated with a tree’s form may be identifiable, reducing our reliance on long-term field trials.

What are the accomplishments within the research of Future Trees Trust?

We have achieved so much in the 28 years of our existence, but I’d have to say that these are the greatest achievements so far:

1. The establishment of several seed orchards producing qualified seed under Forest Reproductive Material guidelines for species such as birch, sycamore, chestnut.

2. The recent establishment of Oak Clonal Seed Orchards – a species notoriously difficult to graft and to get sufficient acorns of UK adapted seed.

3. Partnerships! Working with others to achieve nationwide research programmes, such as the Living Ash Project, the Sustainable Seed Source project and the UK Strategy for Forest Genetic Resources.

What do you think will be the biggest news stories ifor Future Trees Trust research over the next decade?

Discovering enough ash trees tolerant to Ash Dieback to create a genetically diverse, viable breeding population must rank very highly. We know that oak trees mast – they produce abundant acorns in some years but none in others – and this has a huge impact on the availability of acorns in non-mast years, as acorns are difficult to store. We need to understand more about this and to see if we can selectively breed for masting. What are the benefits for companies choosing to support Future Trees Trust? There are loads of benefits! They range from the purely philanthropic – that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that you’re supporting something because it’s the right thing to do – to the purely financial – an association with us will boost your organisation’s reputation and provide some distinction in a competitive market, helping to boost sales and the bottom line. We know very well that, given the choice between two identical products – trees, saplings, seed – customers will always favour the one associated with supporting a charity.

If you would like to support Future Trees Trust or book Tim for a guest speaking opportunity please email: or call: 07896834518

Posted on the 9th August 2019 at 12:21pm.