A fabulous new trophy has joined the high-quality Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards collection – as the 2021 virtual ceremony opens up for registrations.

Anyone wanting to join the first online celebration of the 2021 Awards can now sign up here to find out who has won from a large and extremely competitive field of entries.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, said: “Without giving anything away, we have had a very strong field of entries and will be able to reward some excellent winners – and commend many others.”

“We are working hard to ensure the virtual awards ceremony captures both the quality, as well as the fun and humanity, of the awards – and we hope all those who love and enjoy forests and woods will join us.”

The event takes place on Friday 10th September, from 12-1pm, via Zoom.

The new trophy, for the Climate Change Champion Award, sponsored by CarbonStore, is the latest addition to a superb collection of magnificent trophies awarded to the winners.

Angela Douglas said: “We are delighted with the latest striking trophy, which is a wonderful piece of art remarkably hand carved by chainsaw.  We will be thrilled to share the very high standard of awards in 2021, in keeping with our desire to reward only high-quality entries – those that truly merit the accolade of the Scotland’s Finest Woods or related projects.

“I would like to thank again our excellent judges, who have given their time and expertise to ensure that those high standards are maintained.  In these most difficult times, they have done an amazing job and we are extremely grateful to them all.  Their contribution, all as volunteers, to Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards is immense.”

Scotland’s Finest Woods will make history in 2021 by holding its celebratory awards ceremony online for the first time.

The long-running awards are normally presented at the Royal Highland Show in June, but the flagship agricultural event has been cancelled for the second year running.

   

The awards ceremony will now take place online on Friday September 10th, starting at 12 noon and completing by 1pm.

The decision to move the event until later in the year will allow judges more time to visit sites safely and in line with Covid-19 guidance, to make their decisions on the winners of the 10 competitions across 6 categories – for Quality Timber, New Native Woods, Community Woodlands, Farm Woodlands and Schools, as well as a new Climate Change Champion Award.

“The Trustees were extremely keen for the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards to go ahead in 2021 after the disappointment of having to cancel the 2020 programme,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods.

“However, we are very mindful of Covid-19 restrictions and wanted to give our judges more time to be able to visit sites safely.  The Trustees have put the safety of judges and entrants at the top of our priority list.”

“Even before the cancellation of the Royal Highland Show, we realised that social distancing restrictions would limit the numbers at any in-person event – so started planning an online alternative.”

Scotland’ Finest Woods is working with Starkevents to create an online event which captures the high quality and prestigious reputation of the Awards as well as their relaxed, friendly and celebratory nature.

“We are working hard to ensure we can deliver an event which is enjoyable, but also celebrates and recognises the very best of our woodlands. We will reveal more details of the event over the coming months,” said Angela Douglas.

Photos: Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – © Julie Broadfoot / Juliebee – www.juliebee.co.uk

A new Climate Change Champion prize has been added to Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards as the ‘Tree Oscars’ return in 2021.


The award recognises the enormous contribution that forests and woodlands are making to the fight against climate change – which will be highlighted at the COP26 global environmental summit in Glasgow in November.


“COP26 shines an environmental light on Scotland, where 80% of the UK’s trees are currently being planted – and it seemed a perfect time for the Awards to highlight the vital role our forests and woodlands play in mitigating and helping respond to the damaging effects of climate change,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods. “We are very excited to be able to announce the new Award.”


The Climate Change Champion Award, sponsored by CarbonStore, will be chosen by judges from entries to all 2021 Awards categories. All entries can identify and highlight what their project will contribute to tackling climate change. 


The Award has been developed with specialist independent guidance from Forest Research, Great Britain’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research.


All other categories return in the annual Awards programme, which was cancelled in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic led to a nationwide lockdown just before the entry deadline of 31st March 2020. This meant sites could not be visited in person by judges, and the annual Awards ceremony could not be held at the Royal Highland Show in June.


“We were very disappointed to have to cancel the 2020 Awards but it became clear that it was the only safe and sensible way to proceed,” said Guy Watt, Chair of Scotland’s Finest Woods, the charity which operates the long-standing and highly-respected programme. “We are delighted to be back in 2021, with the health and safety of judges and entrants our top priority – and especially to be back with the exciting new Climate Change Champion Award.”


All entries for the 2020 Awards can carry their entry forward to 2021, with the option to add new information, including their credentials in tackling climate change. 


“We were very disappointed to have to cancel the 2020 Awards but it became clear that it was the only safe and sensible way to proceed,” said Guy Watt, Chair of Scotland’s Finest Woods, the charity which operates the long-standing and highly-respected programme. “We are delighted to be back in 2021, with the health and safety of judges and entrants our top priority – and especially to be back with the exciting new Climate Change Champion Award.”


All entries for the 2020 Awards can carry their entry forward to 2021, with the option to add new information, including their credentials in tackling climate change. 

rope bridge
Children on a rope bridge at Earthtime Forest School Nursery in Duffus, Moray – winner of the 2019 Crown Estate Scotland Schools Award


Regular categories returning include the popular Crown Estate Scotland Schools Award, which rewards a creative educational approach to teaching children about the wonder of woodlands – and the Community Woods Award, with two competitions for small and large community woodland groups.


The two Farm Woodland Awards are back – the Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People (Farm Woodland Award) was awarded for the first time in 2019 and won by Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer for Lynbreck Croft, Grantown on Spey, who strive to achieve full integration of trees and woods into their farm business.


The Young People Award is for farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 40 or under.  SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), sponsors the overall Farm Woodland Award, open to everyone.


The New Native Woods Award, sponsored by the Woodland Trust, is back too, along with the competitive Quality Timber Awards, across three different categories: new commercial wood, multi-purpose forest or whole estate, and a single stand/compartment or small wood.


Fergus Ewing, Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary, said: “I’m delighted to see Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards back for 2021. The programme rewards passionate and purposeful individuals and groups that are creating forests and woodlands to the highest standards.  


“During the current climate emergency, Scotland’s trees have a bigger role than ever to play as they are helping remove harmful CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. By planting more trees we can remove even more emissions and our increasing planting targets reflect this. The addition of the Climate Change Champion Award in the year of COP26 is very welcome in highlighting the contribution of trees to Scotland’s ambition to reach net zero by 2045.”


David McCulloch, Head of CarbonStore, sponsor of the Climate Change Champion Award, said: “CarbonStore is dedicated to helping mitigate climate change by uniting landowners keen to plant trees with companies wanting to offset their residual carbon emissions. We therefore consider ourselves the perfect partner in sponsoring the new Climate Change Champion Award in this highly-respected, well-established programme, especially in the year COP26 comes to Scotland. We look forward to some excellent entries.”


Entries must be submitted by 31st March 2021. For the full list of awards, criteria and entry forms, go to www.sfwa.co.uk

Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’ will return in 2021 to reward the passionate people who create and manage the country’s finest forests and woodlands

The coronavirus pandemic sadly led to the cancellation of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards for 2020, but the programme will resume in 2021 – subject to all health and safety protocols being followed.

“We are very keen to press ahead with the Awards and have had a very enthusiastic response to our plans from everyone involved with the programme,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, which arranges the annual Awards.

“We will ensure the Awards go ahead in a way that guarantees the quality of our winners – and protects the safety of our respected judges and all those who enter. Keeping people safe will be a top priority.”

Scotland’s Finest Woods Executive Director Angela Douglas at Glen Affric

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2021 will be formally launched in January. All entries received for the 2020 programme are to be carried forward for 2021, with the opportunity for entries to be updated.

New entrants will also be welcomed for all categories: Community Woodlands (large and small); Farm Woodland (an open award and one for those aged 40 or under); New Native Woods; and Quality Timber (three awards for newly-planted commercial woods, a single stand, compartment or small wood and an award for whole estates or multi-purpose forests).

A Sutherland pinewood

The ever-popular Schools Award also returns, while Awards Trustees are also considering an exciting and highly topical new award for 2021.

Guy Watt has taken on the role of Chair of the Board of Charity Trustees of Scotland’s Finest Woods succeeding Chris Inglis, who has been involved in the programme for more than 20 years.

Angela Douglas said: “We are all hugely indebted to Chris Inglis for his exceptional contribution. His deep knowledge, passion, warmth and good humour have been vital in helping the Awards thrive over many years.

“We are also grateful to have someone of Guy Watt’s calibre to step up into the role of Chair. Alongside our new Trustees, Peter Whitfield, Richard Howe and Malcolm Young, and our longer-serving Trustees Sir Patrick Hunter Blair and Wilma Harper, we have a strong and experienced Board for the 2021 programme.” [Angela Douglas is also a Trustee].

 

 

 

Three experienced forestry professionals have become Trustees of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards to help re-start the programme in 2021 after the 2020 Awards had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus.

Richard Howe (below left), former Head of International Forestry, Standards & Certification at Forestry Commission GB is joined on the Board of Trustees by Peter Whitfield (centre), Business Development Director at Tilhill and Malcolm Young (right), Forestry Team Leader at SAC Consulting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “After the disappointment of cancelling the Awards programme for 2020, we are delighted to be able to look ahead to 2021 with three new Trustees of the highest calibre.

“They bring very significant experience across a wide range of forestry disciplines and a tremendous set of skills – as we look forward to working with them on many future celebrations of our fine forests and wonderful woodlands.”

Mr Howe, Mr Whitfield and Mr Young applied to join the Board as part of a planned succession strategy.  Two long-serving Trustees – Chris Inglis, Chair, and Sir Patrick Hunter Blair who joined the Board in 2008 and 2009 respectively – decided they will step down in the near future.  The three new Trustees will join Wilma Harper, Guy Watt and Angela Douglas on the Board.

Angela Douglas added: “Chris and Pat have given many years of superb service to these Awards and I’m sure that they won’t be strangers to us in future.  On behalf of everyone connected with the Awards, I would like to put on record my heartfelt thanks for their immense contributions.”

Richard Howe joined the Forestry Commission in 1989 and worked for seven years as Conservator for South West Scotland.  He was transferred to Edinburgh in 1999 to work on policy and has been responsible for the UK Forestry Standard, as well as international work and certification.

Peter Whitfield has spent more than 40 years in commercial forestry, including 14 years in Swaziland where he managed 70,000 hectares of fast-growing pine plantations.  He has worked for Tilhill since 2002 in a variety of roles, including Director of Timber Operations.

Malcolm Young has worked in forestry for 18 years, initially with Tilhill and then Eamonn Wall & Co.  He has been a Senior Forestry Consultant with SAC Consulting for almost five years and took on the role of Forestry Team Leader in February 2018.

Angela Douglas added: “I am very grateful to our new Trustees and also to their organisations, who have been very supportive of the programme – and of course to all the awards sponsors and supporters.

“Everyone has been very understanding and supportive after we took the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Awards and we are already looking forward to 2021!”

“We were very encouraged to receive a good number of entries for the planned 2020 programme.  These will be ‘carried forward’ into the 2021 Awards.”

After careful consideration, we regret to announce that the 2020 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards’ programme has been cancelled due to the impact of Covid-19.

We had looked at a variety of options, but the cancellation of the Royal Highland Show – where the Awards ceremony is held – and the impossibility for judges to travel to visit sites as a result of Government advice has made the decision inevitable.

We have been very encouraged to receive a good number of entries for the planned 2020 Awards’ Programme – which will be ‘carried forward’ into 2021 Awards’ programme.  All 2020 entrants will, during January to March 2021, be given an opportunity to ‘refresh and update’ their 2020 submitted entry if they would like to do so, ready for competing in the 2021 programme.

If any 2020 entries carried forward to 2021 no longer meet age criteria, these will be waived to ensure they remain eligible to enter in 2021, given the exceptional circumstances.

All our judges, Delivery Partners, Supporters and of course 2020 entrants will be contacted shortly with additional information specific to them.

We very much look forward to finding out which are Scotland’s finest woodlands, forests and related projects in an excellent celebration next year!

In the meantime, stay safe and we wish you all well in these most challenging times.  Thank you for your understanding and ongoing support.

As many of you will have heard, The Royal Highland Show has been cancelled due to Covid-19.  Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards will therefore be unable to hold its annual Awards Ceremony at the event on Friday 19th June as planned.

There are a number of options open to us – to hold local presentations, to delay until later in the year or to ‘carry over’ the 2020 Awards into 2021 (as well as potentially others).

The final decision will depend on the Government’s continually updated advice, the spread of the virus over the coming months and especially its impact on the ability of our judges to visit sites across Scotland.

For now, we encourage anyone planning to enter the 2020 Awards to get their entries in.  We have already received a good number of early entries and the deadline of 31st March remains.

We will aim to make a further statement soon after 31st March, and in the meantime, we thank you for your patience and wish you all well in these most challenging times.

Do you care about Scotland’s Finest Woods?  Can you spare 2-4 days a year to support Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards in a governance role?  If so, we the small charity Scotland’s Finest Woods whose sole purpose is to operate the prestigious annual Awards Programme, would love to hear from you!

Due to the retirement of two of Scotland’s Finest Woods current Charity Trustees in 2020 we are seeking new Trustees to join us.   We will particularly welcome applications from those with some knowledge of agriculture including farm woodlands, or timber marketing, or fundraising or a combination of these.

Interested?  For details and how to apply see: 2020 Trustee Role.

Closing date for applications is 12noon on Wednesday 18th March 2020.  We look forward to hearing from you!

The annual search to find Scotland’s finest forests and most wonderful woods has begun.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – © Julie Broadfoot / Juliebee – www.juliebee.co.uk

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “2019 was a hugely significant year for trees in Scotland, with planting targets surpassed, full devolution of forestry policy and the centenary of the 1919 Act.  We were delighted to celebrate that by honouring a range of brilliant winners – from a nursery school helping children discover the wonder of trees to Forestry and Land Scotland for their skilled management of Fort Augustus Woodlands over generations.  The challenge is to find more wonderful winners to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Awards in 2020.”

The 2019 winners stretched from Michaelswood Public Amenity in Aith, Shetland (winner of the Overall and Small Community Woodland Group Award) to Beirhope, near Kelso, in the Scottish Borders – winner of the New Commercial Woodlands Awards.
“The Awards have always had a wide geographical reach, as well as reflecting the huge variety of excellent woods and forests in Scotland and I’m sure that 2020 will be no exception,” Angela Douglas added.

Apart from the one-off Centenary Award, all other prizes are back for 2020, including two Farm Woodland Awards.  The Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People (Farm Woodland Award) was awarded for the first time in 2019 and won by the outstanding Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer for Lynbreck Croft, Grantown on Spey.  After they won, Lynn said: “We tried to achieve full integration of trees and woods into the farm business.  They are our most valuable asset in terms of shelter for animals and fuel for us, as well as sequestering carbon and biodiversity.”

The Young People Award is for farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 40 or under.  SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), sponsors the overall Farm Woodland Award, won in 2019 by John Drysdale and Kieran Kelly for Kilrie Farm, Kirkcaldy, Fife.   Angela Douglas added: “We are very grateful to SAC Consulting and Scottish Woodlands Ltd for helping to establish the Farm Woodland Awards with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland – and to all our very generous sponsors.”

The ever-popular Crown Estate Schools’ Trophy returns, won in 2019 by Earthtime Forest School Nursery in Duffus, Moray, with Levenmouth Academy, Buckhaven, Fife, named runner-up for helping to plant 8,000 trees beside the school.

Presenting the 2019 Awards, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said: “It’s wonderful to see young people in Scotland, from nursery through to secondary school, engaging with trees and our natural environment in such a positive way.  We know how children benefit from learning outdoors and it is great to see forests and woodlands playing a big part in that.”

Other returning Awards are:
Community Woodlands (two competitions: small and large community woodland groups);
New Native Woods; and
Quality Timber (three competitions: new commercial wood; multi-purpose forest or whole estate; and a single stand/compartment or small wood).

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, who has presented the awards for the last three years, said:  “We are in a golden era for forestry and woods in Scotland and Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards celebrate the huge variety of excellence across the country.  The winners represent those exceptional individuals and groups who create fantastic spaces to allow us all to enjoy our forests and woods.”

Entries must be submitted by 31st March 2020. For the full list of awards, criteria and entry forms, go to www.sfwa.co.uk

* The pictures show: Nicola Sturgeon presenting pupils from Levenmouth Academy in Buckhaven, Fife, with a runner-up prize in the 2019 Schools Award – and pupils outside the school, where they have helped to plant 8000 trees, including an orchard and community garden.  Also pictured is teacher and project leader Duncan Zuill (left).
Photographs’ credit: Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – © Julie Broadfoot / Juliebee – www.juliebee.co.uk

Entries to the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards can come from anywhere in Scotland.  Respected, experienced judges assess competitive entries to select category winners.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards is an independent charity and relies on the generosity of supporters.
The 2020 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards Delivery Partners are:
BSW Timber; Crown Estate Scotland; Egger Forestry; Forestry and Land Scotland; Iggesund Forestry; James Jones & Sons Ltd; Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland; SAC Consulting; Scottish Woodlands Ltd; Tilhill Forestry; and Woodland Trust Scotland.
Supporters are: Alba Trees; Caledonia Play; Central Scotland Green Network Trust; Community Woodlands Association; Confor; Institute of Chartered Foresters; and the Royal Scottish Forestry Society.

We were absolutely delighted to be joined at the immensely celebratory 2019 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards by both the First Minister Nicola Surgeon MSP and the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing MSP.   There were awards for Schools such as brought smiles below, Community Woodland projects, New Native and Commercial Woodlands, Quality Timber, Farm Woodlands including a new Trophy especially for Young People and a unique Centenary Award

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – © Julie Broadfoot / Juliebee – www.juliebee.co.uk

The Awards’ programme recognises excellence in forests, woods and forest-related projects across Scotland.

This year’s programme included a special Centenary Award to mark 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act that created the Forestry Commission and recognised the importance of forestry in our country.  This unique one-off Award is for woodland management that has adapted to change and shows resilience both from the past and in preparation for the future.

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