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A forest for the future, designed to help in the fight against climate change, a young farmer mixing trees and pigs, and a community woodland in a country park were all honoured at the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2023.
Coupled with a special award for forestry which balanced commercial aims with biodiversity and the wider environment, as well as a woodland planted in memory of a lost family member and some fine examples of schools and early years projects, the ceremony at the Royal Highland Show was a true celebration of all that is good about Scotland’s forests and woodlands.
This year’s winner of the prestigious CarbonStore trophy for Climate Change Champion was The Future Forest Company Ltd for Dumyat, near Stirling.
They have produced a “multi-use forest for the future”, with the main objectives of carbon sequestration, enhancing biodiversity and providing for communities, both now and for years to come.
There is a total planting area of 184 ha with over 340k trees, and an avoidance of monoculture with the use of 18 different species of tree, as well as plans to introduce wildflower meadows to increase biodiversity.
They were told: “The Judges found this to be a well-conceived, innovative, and compelling example of modern woodland creation to address the challenges of climate change. The entire scheme is relatable to other possible woodland creation schemes and appears exemplary in execution to date.”
A brilliant example of agroforestry using pigs won David Carruth the Scottish Woodlands Ltd. Trophy for Young People for his work at at Brodoclea, Dalry, North Ayrshire for The Future Forest Company Ltd.
The judges praised the “innovation being shown in establishing this enterprise” while David told them he works with a herd of 163 Mangalitza pigs on the forest floor. David added: “The local ecology responds well to the pigs as they create opportunities for birds, invertebrates and small mammals. We monitor biodiversity onsite through conducting surveys and recording our observations.
“For the pigs, the constant access to fresh foliage means that I only supply them with 3% of their total diet through summer months. They are healthier and happier because they have large social circles and can constantly engage with the woodland.”
Winner of the Large Community Woodland Group competition and of the Tim Stead Trophy for the overall Community Woodland Award were Friends of Almondell & Calderwood with West Lothian Council for Almondell Woods at Almondell & Calderwood Country Park.
They delivered rejuvenation and restoration projects within the boundaries of the old Almondell Estate, restoring a 19th century walled garden with building work and the planting of fruit trees to demonstrate heritage cultivation methods. There is now also a community heritage trail around 9 historic features dating from 1790’s, as well some great woodland management.
The judges said: “Overall, Almondell Woodlands is exemplary in the partnership which has established between a Local Authority woodland owner and a “Local friends of Group.” And importantly, those involved are still enjoying being involved.”
Winner of the Dulverton Flagon, an occasional award given at the judges’ discretion for a successful balance between commercial forestry and competing objectives was Ardachuple, in a National Scenic Area at the Kyles of Bute, Cowal.
The work saw them establish a productive crop using sound silviculture. At the same time they developed biodiversity for the benefit of wildlife and raptors, and enhanced habitat where possible existing native woodlands.
The judges said: “Ardachuple was an extremely well designed, planned and implemented scheme which showed how commercial woodland can be established in a very sensitive landscape.”
The winner of the Woodland Trust Scotland Trophy for New Native Woods was Martyn’s Wood, Crannich, Isle of Mull.
It was planted in memory of Martyn Osmond, the nephew of owner Robin Sedgwick, who passed away as a result of a tragic accident on January 1, 2009, at the age of just 21. Robin told the judges: “We felt planting this woodland at a time of great sadness would turn a negative situation into a positive ‘living’ future.”
It was difficult to have a good tree establishment on infertile, exposed, treeless land. Because of that they used Alder and Poplar, both fast growing, to nurse the more tender stems of Oak, Willow, Rowan, Silver Birch and Hazel. The bulk of the Poplar will be removed once the woodland is fully established.
Meanwhile, Fordyce Primary School near Portsoy in Aberdeenshire took home the Crown Estate Scotland Schools’ Trophy.
The judges summed up the tireless work of the pupils and staff: “The project was multifaceted and included the Fordyce Plantation project where the pupils worked with the local estate in an area of forestry adjacent to the school to identify and map the Badger setts for forest management purposes.
“The pupils also planted a woodland in the school grounds as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Project. What shone out was the pupils’ voice in driving the school improvement journey and their investment in and enthusiasm for the projects. A well-deserved winner.”
The winner of the Scottish Forestry Early Years’ Trophy was Bushcraft Bairns at Comrie Croft, Perthshire who created a Forest School setting that nurtures connection with nature through play.
The judges praised the use of “waste wood materials from the nearby wedding venue to build structures in the wood, to rooting the entire programme within the curriculum.” They said the result was “a magical woodland space for young people to grow in and learn about trees and woodlands”.
Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform & Islands, who presented the Awards, said: “The Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate our trees and woodlands, and especially, all the inspiring people who care for them. I’d like to congratulate the award winners and everyone who took part.
“This year we’ve had some fantastic entries which shows Scotland really does have a vibrant forestry and woodland sector.
“I’m particularly pleased to see so many children and young people involved in award entries. We need to grow and nurture our future foresters from an early age and attract more young people into the world of forestry. This is an important issue that needs collective public and private action and I’m looking forward to discussing this, and finding solutions, at the forthcoming Scottish Forestry Summit later in the year.”
Jean Nairn, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, said: “Once again, Scotland has excelled itself in producing some world-beating examples of forestry and woodland, not least in the important sphere of climate change.
“The awards ceremony is a well-established fixture on the calendar and it is always pleasing to see such a wide range of entries, from early years through to more seasoned foresters, community groups to farmers. I think another benefit of today was that everyone learned something from each other – all doing things differently but with the aim of the environment and trees at the heart of it.”
Images attached to email – for more pictures (including winners receiving their prizes), quotes from the winners and interview requests, contact Nick Drainey on 07711 441707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Full list of awarded entries
Climate Change Champion
Winner of the CarbonStore trophy for Climate Change Champion: The Future Forest Company Ltd for Dumyat, near Stirling
Highly commended: Clyde Climate Forest
Early Years Award
Winner of the Scottish Forestry Early Years’ Trophy: Bushcraft Bairns, Comrie Croft, Perthshire
Winners of the Crown Estate Scotland Schools’ Trophy: Fordyce Primary School, near Portsoy, Aberdeenshire
Commended: Banchory Academy
Commended: Linnvale Primary School, Clydebank
Commended: Oakbank Primary School, Perth
Farm Woodland Award
Winner of the Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People: David Carruth at Brodoclea, Dalry, North Ayrshire for The Future Forest Company Ltd
New Native Woods Award
Winner of the Woodland Trust Scotland Trophy for New Native Woods: Martyn’s Wood, Crannich, Isle of Mull
Highly Commended: Strathvaich New Native Woodland, Garve, Highlands
Commended: Camas Wood, Isle of Mull
Commended: Storakaig Wood, Islay
Quality Timber Awards
New Commercial Woods category
Winner of the James Jones Trophy for New Commercial Woods: Crofthead, Moffat, Borders
Winner of the John Kennedy Trophy for Multi-purpose Woodlands for Whole Forest or Estate: Barracks Forest, near Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire for CCF LLP c/o Fountains Forestry UK Ltd
Commended: Clow and Condie, Bridge of Earn
The Dulverton Flagon
Winner of the Dulverton Flagon as a special prize for the successful balance between commercial forestry and competing objectives: Ardachuple, Kyles of Bute, Cowal
Community Woodlands Award
Winner of the Small Community Woodland Group competition: Doune Community Woodland Group for Doune Ponds, Doune, near Stirling
Winner of the Large Community Woodland Group competition and of the Tim Stead Trophy for overall Community Woodland Award Winner: Friends of Almondell & Calderwood with West Lothian Council for Almondell Woods, Almondell & Calderwood Country Park
Commended: Carron Valley Community Woodland (Valley Renewables Group)
Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’ return for 2023 after a hugely successful 2022 and with climate change and sustainable forest management at their core.
The prestigious Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards will this year see a renewed focus on climate change after last year saw winners range from a couple who planted 14,000 trees on a rocky peninsula in the Western Isles to a primary school which moved 80% of learning outdoors during the pandemic.
Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the New Native Woods prize “patience and perseverance” in planting trees on a croft perched on an exposed peninsula at Ardnakille, Scalpay, off the Isle of Harris. Meanwhile, Grandtully Primary, Perthshire, joint winner of the Schools Award with Priorsford Primary School in Peebles, was praised by the judges for a “beautiful example of how Covid helped take learning outdoors”.
Jean Nairn, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, responsible for running Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’ said: “Last year it was a delight to see a wide range of winners, from the forestry and woodland sectors to schools and inspiring individuals such as the Coulthards.
“This year will see the Climate Change Champion award return as the world looks towards a warming planet and the urgent need to take more action. The wonderful efforts across Scotland to use forests and woodlands to mitigate, adapt and educate everyone about the climate crisis will rightly be recognised.
“This encompasses the forestry and farming sectors as well as schools and communities – all of whom play their part in helping Scotland overcome the environmental challenges facing us all.” Entrants may apply directly to this award or submit as an additional entry along with another award category.
The awards look to champion work done across a range of sectors with applicants invited to highlight best practice of forest and woodland management across Scotland.
Jean added: “It is important that we continue to appreciate the work done across different sectors to improve our forests and woodlands, which have an incredibly important role to play. They allow us to grow timber for construction rather than having to import it, improve farming, enhance landscapes and make space for recreation. And the huge bonus is that it also allows biodiversity to increase and helps tackle climate change.”
With continued Scottish Government support for ambitious tree planting targets, organisers hope for another exceptional set of winners in 2023. Environment Minister Máiri McAllan presented the stunning trophies at last year’s awards at the Royal Highland Show. Looking forward to this year’s entries she said: “Scotland is home to some fantastic forests and wonderful woodlands – with equally wonderful people caring for them.
“We enjoy an international reputation for the positive way they are managed and the awards are a great showcase for all the hard work undertaken by woodland managers both large and small.”
Many areas of achievement are celebrated at the Awards. Jean Nairn added: “The awards really are open to anyone with a high-quality project, whether that be a small school nursery or a major forestry business, an expert forester, a community woodland or a farmer.”
Guy Watt, Chair of Scotland’s Finest Woods, the charity which operates the programme, said: “It was a pleasure to return to the Royal Highland Show after a Covid-enforced absence and we are looking forward to returning again in June.
“We are thrilled to have the Climate Change Champion Award again, as well as the superb range of other accolades to mark the achievements of our entrants.”
The Climate Change Champion Award has been developed in partnership with Forest Research, who will again provide expert judges in 2023.
All the other popular categories return in the long-running Awards, including the Quality Timber Awards, with three different categories: new commercial woodland creation, multi-purpose forest or whole estate, and a single stand/compartment or small wood. The ever-popular young peoples’ awards return with a Schools Award and a separate Early Years’ Trophy, won by Johnston Nursery, Kirkcudbright last year. Also returning are the New Native Woodlands award sponsored by Woodland Trust Scotland and the Community Woodlands awards – small and large groups.
The two Farm Woodland Awards are back as well – last year the Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People was taken home by John MacGregor and Andy Maclachlan for Allanfauld Farm, Kilsyth and the joint winners of the Lilburn Trophy for Farm Woodlands were Michael and Shirley Clarke for Williamwood, Lockerbie and The Lockett Family for Knockbain Farm, Dingwall, Ross-shire.
Entries must be submitted by 23:59 on Friday March 31, 2023. For full details, criteria and entry forms see: www.sfwa.co.uk
For more information and all media inquiries please contact Nick Drainey at email@example.com or 07711441707
The attached pictures (© Julie Broadfoot) show 2022 winners:
Ardnakille on Scalpay, Western Isles
Johnston Nursery, Kirkcudbright
Grandtully Primary School, Perthshire
Joint winners of the 2022 Farm Woodland Award and the Lilburn Trophy – Michael Clarke, Williamwood & Richard Lockett, Knockbain with Máiri McAllan
More pictures available on request.
Notes to editors
Scotland’s Finest Woods is a charity which relies on the generosity of its partners and supporters to provide the resources needed to stage Scotland’s premier woodland awards programme.
Scotland’s Finest Woods’ key delivery partners in 2023 are:
● BSW Timber Ltd
● Crown Estate Scotland
● Forestry and Land Scotland
● Holmen Iggesund
● James Jones & Sons Ltd
● Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland
● Scottish Forestry
● Scottish Woodlands Ltd
● Woodland Trust Scotland
Support for the awards programme is also provided by:
Jean Nairn has been appointed Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, responsible for running Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’.
Having spent more than 20 years working in and around the sector, Jean is well qualified to take on the prestigious annual Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, celebrating all aspects of woodland and forest management, from forestry to farming, community to schools.
Jean said: “We are promoting the work carried out by forestry and farming sectors including the additional Climate Change Champion award which demonstrates best practice and innovation within the sector as well as schools and communities.” She added: “The awards are a fantastic demonstration of the diversity of people we see across the forest and woodland management sector. It is great to see how things are always moving forward with young and old being represented, something I want to continue and build on.
“Climate change is affecting every part of society and we want to promote the fantastic work being done across Scotland’s wonderful forests and woodlands to mitigate, adapt and educate the impact of a warming planet.”
With roots in the heart of ‘Big Tree Country’, Jean entered the forest industry in Scotland after graduating from Bangor University with a degree in Agroforestry. After working with Confor and Scottish Woodlands among others she has trained as a Forest Therapy Guide, certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy.
She believes it is important to recognise the forests, woodlands and managers who create the landscape, managed to industry standards, which also manifest in wellbeing benefits which can be gained by people being among the trees.
Jean added: “If we have great woodlands to enjoy, we feel better because being around trees has the ability to calm and restore us. After all, as human beings we have lived in the woods for most of our lives.
“Managing these trees through multi-purpose forestry is important and vital work in terms of having a thriving industry at the same time as feeling good and saving the planet. That is why I am thrilled and excited to take on this new role.”
Jean replaces Angela Douglas whose eight years in the role have seen the awards grow from strength to strength. Guy Watt, Chair, on behalf of the Trustees said “we would like to thank Angela for her sterling efforts during her term. We are delighted to welcome Jean who will carry on helping the awards to celebrate and recognise some of the great work being carried out across Scotland.”
For more information and interview requests please contact Nick Drainey on 07711 441707 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The attached picture is of Jean Nairn, please credit SFW
Note to editors
Scotland’s Finest Woods is a charity which relies on the generosity of its partners and supporters to provide the resources needed to stage Scotland’s premier woodland awards programme.
Scotland’s Finest Woods’ key delivery partners in 2022 are:
Support for the awards programme in 2022 was also provided by:
A couple who planted 14,000 trees on a rocky peninsula in the Western Isles and a primary school which moved 80% of learning outdoors during the pandemic have been named among the winners at Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’.
Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the New Native Woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022 for “patience and perseverance” in planting trees on a croft on the exposed peninsula at Ardnakille, Scalpay, off the Isle of Harris.
The Isle of Scalpay is a two and half square mile exposed peninsula of rock and peat constantly buffeted by wind and salt, making growing anything a huge challenge. As well as the weather conditions, the couple had to protect saplings – grown from seed in fish boxes – from grazing sheep.
The judges reported: “Growing any trees on this site is an achievement – both ecologically and culturally – and for this the applicants are to be congratulated. This project sets out an example to others of what can be achieved under the least prepossessing environments – and that we can all make a contribution to the environmental challenges we are facing.”
The school which took 80% of learning outside was Grandtully Primary, Perthshire, joint winner of the Schools Award with Priorsford Primary School in Peebles. The judges said of Grandtully: “This is a beautiful example of how Covid helped take learning outdoors. The school grounds are wonderfully developed by the children and the community for human play and learning, but also for wildlife. The children have planted many trees and hedges, built structures from wood, made a wildlife watching area and much more.”
Joint winner Priorsford, the judges said, was a “superb example of how a school can take learning and play outdoors plus make connections to the local woods”.
The Early Years winner was Johnston Nursery in Kirkcudbright, praised by judges for its “visionary” approach. The nursery has bought a small patch of local woodland and the children, with adult help, made it their own, using the children’s committee to express their wishes – including a dog poo campaign, tunnel, castle and tree planting.
The Awards were presented at the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston for the first time since 2019, following a Covid-cancellation in 2020 and online ceremony in 2021.
Winner of the Quality Timber Award for New Commercial Woods was Succothmore in Cowal, Argyll managed by Bryan Pearce for Tilhill. Succothmore was, the judges said, “an exceptional scheme from design to successful establishment”, which had created “appropriate commercial forestry in eagle territory”. They added: “Both biodiversity and public access will benefit, including important botanical species and strong links into the Cowal Way.”
There was also a rare award of The Dulverton Flagon, made at the Quality Timber Award judges’ discretion, and last awarded in 2016. It was presented to Cormilligan, a large new commercial wood planted in Upper Nithsdale, Dumfries & Galloway, also managed by Tilhill. Judges described it as “an excellent example of modern Scottish forestry, delivering multiple objectives, focusing on quality timber and climate change mitigation” – and praised its “ambition, vision, and ability to take on board others’ views and criticism in its development”.
In the Farm Woodland Awards, Allanfauld Farm, near Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire, was a double winner. Farmer John MacGregor and forester Andy Maclachlan won the Young People’s award and the farm was highly commended in the overall award – as an excellent example of integrated farm forestry.
The ‘all age’ farm woodland award was shared between Williamwood, near Lockerbie and Knockbain Farm, Dingwall, Ross-shire. Williamwood, judges said, was “striving to improve woodland habitats in complete fusion with food production”. Without the woodlands, the owners Michael and Shirley Clarke said: “The farm would be exposed to the strong winds which blow from the Solway: the grass would not grow as well and we, our livestock and the wildlife would shiver.”
Judges highlighted the excellent shelter provided by trees at Knockbain for “undoubtedly increasing the farm’s capital value”. Firewood provides heating through a biomass boiler for the farmhouse and income is generated through timber sales. Judges reported: “The farm is also outstanding in its connection to the local community in the neighbouring town of Dingwall with the woodlands providing very good footpaths and cycle facilities.”
The Small Community Woodland Group winner and overall Community Woodland Award winner of the Tim Stead Trophy was Taliesin Community Woodland, near Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway. Judges said South West Community Woodland Trust, which owns and manages Taliesin, had created “a special site that “encourages and enables local people to come together out of doors in a welcoming environment” and is a “haven for biodiversity”. The judges concluded: “In their 25th year, they are also a worthy winner of the Tim Stead trophy for their stellar work.”
Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, who presented the Awards, said: “Scotland boasts a strong woodland heritage that is admired by many countries and its international reputation for good woodland management is well deserved.
“The Awards celebrate the achievements and hard work of all those who create and care for our forests and woodlands, and instil a love of trees in our young people.
“This year, the judges’ results shine a special spotlight on young people of both nursery and school ages, farm and community woodlands – and excellence in creating new productive and native woods.
“I’d like to congratulate all the winners who are keeping Scotland’s woodlands the finest they can be.”
The full list of awarded entries is available in the Roll of Honour