TREES: Wonderful efforts to use forests and woodlands to educate everyone about the climate crisis

By Lucy Ashton

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.

ScotlandWoodsAwards News“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

News of the awards failed to reach West Dunbartonshire where the SNP blithely got the axes out at the new Dumbarton Cemetery. Top: Wonderful woodlands at Overtoun Estate.

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