The annual search to find Scotland’s finest forests and most wonderful woods has begun.
Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2020 celebrates the programme’s 35th anniversary and builds on its biggest-ever year in 2019, when Fort Augustus Woodlands won the one-off 1919 Forestry Act Centenary Award.
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 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 in 2019, Lynn said: “We tried to achieve full integration of trees and woodsinto 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