top of page

About Evolving Forests

Evolving Forests began life in 2014 as Timber Strategies, born out of experience with the Silvanus Trust, Working Woodlands, Hooke Park and a Nuffield Farming Scholarship. The aim was to push together all the exciting elements of these organisations into a business that inhabited the expanse between tree growing and timber use. It felt like an area that was little understood and well overdue to erupt in meaning and colour.

We wanted to be part of that.

Initially the “We” was just Jez Ralph, scooping up passionate and expert sub-contractors along the way to fulfil project briefs. Covid and a chance encounter led to some intensive business coaching in 2019-21 out of which came Evolving Forests with a renewed vigour, focus and, most significantly employees.

In 2022 we refined what we offer and expanded our horizons to media production work. We have since gone from strength to strength, seen continued growth, and are centring ourselves in the woodland and timber renaissance.

Our Ethos

Our ethos is simple; we live to craft a deeper, more symbiotic relationship between humans and the trees we share the landscape with. We want to work with people that want to use more timber but in a more considered way and with people who want to grow trees for the benefit of the ecosystem, society, and beyond.

To do this we look forwards. We want to match the speed of environmental and cultural change with innovation in our area. That may be the development of digital technologies that help use timber better or new silvicultural systems that create healthier soils.

Caroline Ayre

Policy & Forestry Specialist

Caroline is a Chartered Forester with 26 years of forestry and wood supply chain experience. She is a Cumbrian who, before she found her passion for forestry and settled in Devon, was set on being a hill sheep farmer. Caroline started her career with Jez at the Working Woodlands Project supporting the southwest woodland supply chain and stimulating market demand for local wood products. Since then she has been the England Manager for the Confederation of Forest Industries with representational and director roles at the UK and national level.

She has specialised in forestry, timber and land use policy and tree health risk and management planning. Her focus remains working with businesses to grow the homegrown timber industry through supply chain innovation and resource resilience. She is also a keen gardener and smallholder who strives towards the Good Life.

Catherine Byrne

Researcher and woodlab fellow

Cat has an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity, where her research focused on the importance of woodland heterogeneity for avian biodiversity. Over the past 5 years, Cat has extensive fieldwork experience including biodiversity monitoring in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest and closer to home. She is also excited by the combination of science with creativity. She is a DJ and hosts and produces a radio show, Biorhythms with Cat, where she plays her own field recordings and nature soundscapes. Cat is passionate about the ability of sound to connect people with nature, especially woodlands, and hopes to explore this further.

Cat has joined us as a researcher to input her scientific and creative skills to all our work. Over 2022/23 she will be the Hooke Park Woodlab Scholar focussing attention on the future of forestry on the Architectural Associations forest campus.

The Team

Alice Carfrae

Multimedia producer

Alice brings over a decade of experience in storytelling for sustainability to the team. With a strong foundation in photography and multimedia journalism, Alice’s journey has taken her from the University of Wales and Beijing Foreign Studies University to collaborations with clients such as BBC Online and The Guardian.

At Evolving Forests, Alice comes into a role that aligns perfectly with her values. The organization’s mission—to look beyond the usual solutions—resonates with her commitment to challenge conventions and create meaningful narratives.

Alice plays a pivotal role in crafting stories that showcase the relationship between people and trees. Her work encompasses script writing, filming, photojournalism and visual research. She also leads our growing media creation services highlighting the relationship between people, trees, and the environment.

Katherine Giles

Sustainable timber specialist

Currently studying MSc Green Building at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Kath has over 10 years’ experience in sustainability and a background in horticulture having studied at Schumacher College. In nurturing her passion for craft and creativity Kath has also completed a traineeship with Devon Rural Skills Trust focusing on timber crafts.

Since joining the team Kath has led on client focussed work including processing solutions for locally grown timber into construction products, GIS mapping, and future models of treescapes in protected landscapes. With a timber-based passion for sustainable solutions in the built environment Kath regularly contributes to copy writing, filming work, project literature reviews, and research. Kath’s skills and experience nestle her neatly among the realms of tree growing and timber use.

If you ever fancy going down a rabbit hole about timber reuse and the future of timber in the built environment, get in touch.

We work with a cross-section of woody people ranging from businesses who know nothing but want to know more about sustainable woodland & timber to hard-core timber nerds wanting to develop new ways of thinking and doing. A selection of our clients and collaborators include:

Clients & Collaborators

Jez Ralph

Founder & Director

Over 20 years of forestry and timber experience by way of an archaeology degree (Bristol) and Masters in Forestry (Aberdeen). Jez began work with the Silvanus Trust, working on the regeneration of small-woodlands before time at the Helsinki Woodschool and a Nuffield Farming Scholarship saw a change of direction to architectural timber. Evolving Forests was started while Jez worked part time for the Architectural Association School of Architecture managing and developing their forest campus.

Jez spends office days on the mundane paperwork of keeping a small business going. When not doing that he leads on our teaching and work with universities and CPD for foresters and timber users. His focus is on product development that enhance opportunities to use UK timber, especially lower-value timber in high value application as well as on landscape evolution taking into account ecological and societal imperatives.

bottom of page