2021 Tree Oscars to reward Climate Change Champion

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. 

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