HUNT ON FOR SCOTLAND’S FINEST WOODS
THE search is on to find and celebrate the finest and most inspiring woodlands in Scotland.
The 2017 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards are an annual recognition of excellence among those who use, own or manage Scotland's woods and forests - and a celebration of their contribution to the wealth and well-being of communities.
Last year’s winners were spread across Scotland, from a nursery school in West Dunbartonshire to a forest in Caithness. There were winners from Argyll, Perthshire, Ross-shire and Inverness-shire with commendations from the Scottish Borders, Fife and Aberdeenshire.
“Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards reward everything from excellence in educating children about the wonder of woodlands to rewarding highly-skilled forest management, superb new native and commercial woodland creation and the production of quality timber,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland's Finest Woods.
“Woodlands and forests in this county boast some of the highest standards anywhere in the world and it is important to recognise that. Great work is going on across Scotland – but it is often away from the public gaze and we want to shine a light on this excellence.”
James Ogilvie, Head of Social & Planning Policy at Forestry Commission Scotland, a key partner in the Awards programme, said: “Scotland’s forests and woodlands are a vital natural asset and a national treasure. If they are well looked-after – through sustainable forest management - they can produce a huge range of benefits for people and the environment as well as for the economy. As the main sponsors of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, Forestry Commission Scotland recognises their importance as exemplars of the amazing efforts being made by people, communities and companies throughout Scotland and identifying exemplars for others to follow.”
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of leading trade body Confor, a supporter of the Awards, said: “The forestry and timber industry contributes £1 billion annually to the Scottish economy and employs 25,000 people, with both numbers likely to rise as trees planted in the 1970s and 1980s are harvested. This will mean more jobs, growth and investment in our more rural communities - and more modern forests being re-planted in their place. Modern forestry can also deliver enormous environmental benefits and tremendous recreational opportunities - from bird-watching and walking to more high-energy pursuits like Go Ape or mountain biking.”
Applications are open until 31st March 2017, with trophies and almost £7,000 of prize money to be won. There are seven awards in four categories:
The Quality Timber Awards focus on growing timber of a high standard in three categories, with magnificent trophies and £3,000 in total prize money:
· Newly-planted commercial woods (won in 2016 by Carrick Estate, Argyll managed by Tilhill Forestry);
· A small wood or a single stand or compartment of trees (won in 2016 by Forest Enterprise Scotland for part of Errochty Forest, Perthshire);
· Whole estates/large multi-purpose forests (won in 2016 by Sutherland Estates, Golspie managed by Scottish Woodlands Limited).
The New Native Woods Award – for the skilled delivery of high-quality young native woods and the potential to win the striking Woodland Trust Scotland trophy and £1,000 of prize money (won in 2016 by Garradh Beithe Wood, Inverness-shire).
The Schools Award, won in 2016 by Gavinburn Early Education and Learning Centre in West Dunbartonshire, is for projects that increase young people’s understanding and appreciation of the environmental, social and economic potential of trees, woodlands and forests and the link between trees and wood-based products.
The Community Woodland Award is awarded to community and urban woodlands or other social projects that involve people with their environment. The overall category winner in 2016 was Kilfinan Community Forest, Argyll (also winner of the Viable Livelihoods competition), while Evanton Community Wood, Ross-shire, won the Healthy Lifestyles section). This year, there are two different competitions for small and large community woodland groups.
The Dulverton Flagon, a special award made at the judges’ discretion, was won for Innovation and Diversity in 2016 by Forest Enterprise Scotland for its work in Sibster Forest, Caithness.
Entries are accepted up to 31st March 2017. Full details, including criteria and entry forms, are available at the awards section of www.sfwa.co.uk.
Notes to editors
· Entries to the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards can come from anywhere in Scotland. Respected and experienced judges will assess competitive entries to select winners in each category who are invited to a prestigious awards ceremony at the Royal Highland Show on Friday, 23rd June 2017
· Scotland's Finest Woods is an independent charity and relies on the generosity of supporters to stage Scotland's premier woodland awards programme. The 2017 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards key Delivery Partners are: BSW Timber, Egger Forestry, Forestry Commission Scotland, Iggesund Forestry, James Jones & Sons Ltd, Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland, Scottish Woodlands Ltd, Tilhill Forestry and the Woodland Trust Scotland.