When Chris and Maria Musgrove decided to plant 1,000 saplings on four acres of land they purchased in Truro in 2013, friends thought they were mad. But now their fledgling woodland has been crowned the best in the UK by the Woodland Trust.

The charity ran a competition for anyone who had created woodland under its MOREwoods initiative and invited BBC Countryfile Diaries presenter Paul Martin to join its chief executive Beccy Speight and director of woodland creation John Tucker to decide the winner.

They chose the Musgroves after hearing how they had come together as a family to create a lasting legacy, shunning the idea of making money from the land.

Chris said: “Friends said we could rent the land out for grazing or apply for planning permission to develop it but what we have created far outweighs anything financial. We have a legacy to pass on to our children because they are our future and we need to educate them to preserve our natural environment.

"Our wood has become much more to our family than we ever thought it would. Its management has produced unexpected 'family time' allowing us and our daughters to develop a strong bond with nature. Just four years on and a wide range of wildlife has moved in and we’ve got two environmental warriors in the making.”

Daughters Alice, 17, and Faith, 12, were stunned to hear their wood had taken the title. Chris added: “They thought I was joking when I told them. I’ve got form for pulling their legs so they didn’t believe me at first, but when it dawned on them we’d really won, they stood there open-mouthed. We are all so surprised. It’s a real privilege and means the world to us.

“We love our wood so much and this has made us realise there are others who see it the same way we do.”

Paul Martin, said: “The family really embraced the idea of creating woodland that would benefit future generations and it’s brought them together. It’s a wonderful thing. If they can do it on this small scale, anyone can.

“We need to nurture that next generation and encourage a love of nature because the next generation of trees won’t survive otherwise, and we can’t survive without trees. What the Musgroves have done is beautiful and we were delighted to proclaim their wood our winner.”

The family will receive a bench for their wood and have already had a family photoshoot.