Iain Stewart removes timber from Gain Farm, Cumbernauld
Iain Stewart removes timber from Gain Farm, Cumbernauld

The search is on in the Scottish ‘tree oscars’

Two prizes of £1000 are on offer for the finest farm woodlands in Scotland in the country’s annual ‘Tree Oscars’.

The growing interest in farm woodland has been reflected in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards (SFWA) 2019, with an additional prize on offer to younger farmers (or crofters) who have incorporated tree planting into their business.

Last year, SFWA introduced the Farm Woodland prize, won by Peter Gascoigne, who farms at Broughton in Peebles-shire. Expert judges reported that Mr Gascoigne was convinced that woodland shelterbelts on his farm had led to healthier and heavier lambs.

In a strong inaugural year for the award, John Strachan of Tullo Farm, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, was highly commended for his farm woodland, while Iain Stewart was commended for his work at Gain Farm, Cumbernauld.

Angela Douglas, executive director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: ‘We had very high standard of Year 1 entries and it was clear there was a strong appetite to develop the Farm Woodland competition further. We are therefore delighted to offer two Farm Woodland Awards for 2019 and thank our sponsors for their generous support.’

The Farm Woodland Award aims ‘to reward the very best of Scotland’s farm and croft woodlands that form part of good agricultural practice.  There will be exemplary use of both woodland and agricultural practice with benefits being delivered to both the farming/crofting operation and quality of woodland management.’ Details can be found here.

SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), is sponsoring the Farm Woodland Award for three years, while Scottish Woodlands Ltd is supporting a second award targeted at a younger generation (40 and under) embracing mixed land use, also for three years. The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has also provided support for the Farm Woodland Award in 2019.

Malcolm Young, Senior Forestry Consultant at SAC Consulting, said: ‘The 2018 competition showcased the high quality of farm woodland across Scotland and we look forward to finding out about other great examples and rewarding them in 2019. There are a growing number of examples of innovative mixed land use and it is really important to highlight best practice.

‘Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards are a real landmark in the rural year and it’s very pleasing to see Farm Woodland as an increasingly important part of the programme.’

The winner of the ‘open’ prize sponsored by SAC Consulting will receive £1,000 and the beautiful Lilburn Trophy, while Scottish Woodlands Ltd has commissioned a brand-new trophy (the Scottish Woodlands Trophy for Young People) for the winners of the ‘youth’ prize – who will also receive £1,000.

Ralland Browne, managing director of Scottish Woodlands, said: ‘We are really starting to see land use barriers breaking down in Scotland – and with increasing integration, we see a growing understanding that farming and forestry can work together very successfully. Woodland can bring less productive areas of a farm into use, improve the health and value of livestock and deliver an additional long-term income stream and a more diversified business.

“Scottish Woodlands wants to recognise the younger generation embracing this approach and creating quality woodland on farms. We are also delighted to be commissioning a new trophy to add to the magnificent collection on offer at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.’

Iain Stewart removes timber from Gain Farm, Cumbernauld

The Scottish Woodlands’ Award is open to farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 16-40 on the closing date (31 March).

Andrew McCornick, National Farmers Union of Scotland President, said: ‘NFU Scotland was delighted to see the inaugural success of Farm Woodland Award in 2018 and is equally pleased to see further opportunities in 2019 to recognise high-quality farm woodlands which have shown a truly integrated approach to land management.

“With so much discussion revolving around the environment and agriculture’s role in it, NFUS welcomes the opportunity for good land management through the use of woodlands to be properly rewarded and receive the recognition it deserves.

“It is important that we encourage the younger generation to adopt and utilise these farming practices, which is why it is so encouraging to see a new award specifically for young farmers who are buying into the system and implementing it to the highest of standards.”

Winners will be honoured at a ceremony at the Royal Highland Show on Friday June 21st. There are also prizes for Community Woodlands, New Native Woodlands, Quality Timber, Schools and a special one-off 1919 Forestry Act Centenary Award.

Entries must be in by 31 March and will be assessed by respected, experienced judges. Full details of awards, criteria and entry forms:  www.sfwa.co.uk