The annual ‘Tree Oscars’ to recognise Scotland’s finest forests and woodlands have named their first Climate Change Champion – just weeks before COP26 comes to Glasgow.

Balbeg Estate’s Bennan Hill, near Straiton, Ayrshire – owned by Andrew and Lynne Sinclair – won the new award, sponsored by CarbonStore, as Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards returned after a Covid-cancellation in 2020.

Professor Chris Quine, Chief Scientist at Forest Research, who led the team assessing the Climate Change Champion entries, said: “The judges were very keen to find a worthy winner for the new award and we certainly did find one, in Balbeg Estate.

“Bennan Hill was a well-planned and well-executed case study, drawing on guidance and expert knowledge to address the climate emergency by establishing trees to sequester carbon and contribute to a decarbonised future.

“Even more noteworthy was the way the estate demonstrated an integrated approach to tackling climate change throughout its activities with actions relating to mitigation, adaptation and knowledge exchange.  The owners demonstrated a strong commitment and a real consistency of vision which made this site a very worthy champion.”

The other 2021 winners ranged from a small playgroup in Perth and a high school in Pitlochry to Scotland’s largest landowner, Anders Holch Povlsen, who won the New Native Woods Award for Killiehuntly Woodland in the Cairngorms.  Mr Povlsen said the success was based on “a big team effort” and added: “We very much appreciate this recognition and I’m very proud.”

Thomas MacDonell, Director of Conservation at Wildland Ltd, who led the project, said it was “absolutely fantastic” to win what he described as “the premier forestry awards”. He added: “This could not have happened without Anders Holch Povlsen, who had the vision and courage to stick by us.”

It was a year of firsts – the first Climate Change Champion prize, the first time the Awards were held online in almost 40 years – and the first award for early years woodland education.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the schools and early years prizes for Pitlochry High School and Perth Outdoor Playgroup. She said: “I’m delighted to be able to support these fantastic Awards again, and to see young people in Scotland, from nursery through to secondary school, engaging with trees and nature in such a positive way.

“In the year that COP26 comes to Scotland, it’s important that our schools and early years settings continue to encourage young people to enjoy and value our woodlands. By learning about woodlands, taking part in activities, and sometimes also by planting new trees and protecting our woodlands, our young people are creating a greener, better future for Scotland. Congratulations to all the awards winners and everyone involved in celebrating the very best woodlands in Scotland.”

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, said: “The high standard and number of entries in the Schools Award made it hard for judges to separate schools and early years settings. As a result the Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland team at Scottish Forestry agreed to provide an early years trophy – a beautiful carved wooden acorn reflecting the saying ‘From little acorns mighty oaks grow’ – and prize money.”

The number and quality of entries for the 2021 awards was very strong overall, Angela Douglas added.

“The strength of the awards depends on maintaining very high standards and recognising entries that truly deserve the title ‘finest woods’,” she said. “After the Covid cancellation in 2020, I’m delighted we have been able to bounce back with such a high-quality programme – and I would especially like to thank our 23 volunteer judges who put in so much work in difficult circumstances to ensure the quality standard was maintained.”

You can enjoy the 2021 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards Ceremony and find out all those awarded here.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards is delighted to announce that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will help to reveal the prize-winners at its first-ever online ceremony next week.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – © Julie Broadfoot / Juliebee –

Màiri McAllan MSP, the Scottish Government Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, will also take part in the presentation ceremony.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, said: “We are so pleased that Nicola Sturgeon and Mairi McAllan have agreed to support the programme by announcing Award-winners.”

“The First Minister presented the Schools Award at our last ‘live’ awards at the Royal Highland Show in 2019 and really enjoyed herself.  It’s wonderful news that she has agreed to present the same award as we return in 2021.”

Màiri McAllan, elected for the first time as an MSP in May this year, will announce the winners of the two Community Woodland Award competitions.

Angela Douglas added: “We’ve worked hard to capture the  spirit and excellence of these Awards in our first online ceremony and we’re delighted that our special guests have agreed to support us.”

The event takes place on Friday September 10th,12-1pm and you can sign up here.

The 2021 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards Ceremony: Have you signed up for this prestigious celebratory event?

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards’ organisers are advising anyone interested in forestry, woods and related projects in Scotland that the usual limit to the number of people attending the ceremony does not apply to this year’s online event.

Normally, the popular Awards are held at the Royal Highland Show and numbers have to be limited due to space constraints.

However, the online Zoom event on Friday, September 10th (12noon – 1pm) – which will include special guests, video content and a few surprises – has an increased capacity of up to 500.

“We already have a great range of entrants, funders, supporters, judges and trustees signed up for the event,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods. “But we think some might believe there is a limit on attendance numbers, based on the usual in-person events.”

“We want to assure everyone that this is not the case and encourage them to sign up colleagues and anyone interested for what promises to be a great event.  As usual, we are turning the spotlight only on the highest quality entries, which truly deserve the accolade of being one of Scotland’s finest woods, forests or related project this year.”

There has been fierce competition in many categories, and the addition of the Climate Change Champion Award to mark the COP26 environmental summit coming to Scotland.

“We hope to welcome a much bigger cross-section of the forestry community than we normally can do in person as well as all those interested in our wonderful woods at the online awards” said Angela.

You can sign up to attend the event here

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 –

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

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.