The search is on to find Scotland’s best and most inspiring woods.
A prize to celebrate 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act is the highlight of the annual competition is being offered.
Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 will present the one-off 1919 Forestry Act Centenary Award in a year offering more prizes than ever before – including a second for Farm Woodland, building on the successful introduction of the Award last year.
Angela Douglas, executive director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: ‘We are delighted to have two new awards for 2019, including the one-off centenary prize – to celebrate woodland created during the past 100 years that has evolved through careful and skilled management, has resilience to face the future and justifies the title of one of Scotland’s finest woods.
‘We are very pleased to build on the successful introduction of the Farm Woodland Award, which attracted a very high standard of entries in 2018.’
SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), has agreed to sponsor the Farm Woodland Award for three years, while Scottish Woodlands Ltd is supporting a second Farm Woodland Award for farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 40 or under – also for three years.
Angela added: ‘We are so grateful to SAC Consulting and Scottish Woodlands and also to the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland for their generous support.’
Last year’s inaugural Farm Woodland Award was won by Peter Gascoigne, who farms at Broughton in Peeblesshire. He said creating a woodland shelter belt on his farm had led to heavier and healthier lambs.
The ever-popular Crown Estate Schools’ Trophy is back, won last year by St Mary’s School in Melrose, which has just planted a Centenary Avenue of trees to mark the First World War with part of its prize money.
Other returning categories 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).
Jo O’Hara, head of Forestry Commission Scotland, said: ‘We are strong supporters of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards and very excited to be donating a special award to mark the centenary of the 1919 Forestry Act that will identify a truly outstanding woodland.’
The winner of the centenary award will win £1,000 and specially commissioned trophy. All winners receive £1000 and there is a different trophy for each category.
Malcolm Young, senior forestry consultant at SAC Consulting, said: ‘The 2018 competition showed real quality in Farm Woodland and it’s clear there are a lot of other great examples out there – and we look forward to finding out about them and rewarding them in 2019.’
Ralland Browne, managing director of Scottish Woodlands, said: ‘We are starting to see barriers between different land uses breaking down – and an understanding that farming and forestry can work very well together. ‘Scottish Woodlands wants to recognise the younger generation who are embracing this and creating high-quality woodland on farms.’
Angela added: ‘We have some exceptional forests and woods in Scotland and our annual programme sets out to find them and recognise their excellence – from helping school children discover the wonder of woods to rewarding dedicated community groups who persevere, often in the face of adversity, to improve their woodland, to honouring highly experienced forest managers.
‘The Awards aim to shine a light on our woodland stars from all over Scotland – and give them the recognition they deserve.’
The 2018 winners were spread from Kirkcudbright in the south-west to Braemar in the north-east and Broughton and Melrose in the south-east to Argyll in the North-West.
This year’s cream of the crop will be honoured at the annual Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards ceremony at the Royal Highland Show on Friday June 21 2019.
Entries must be submitted by 31 March 2019. For the full list of awards, criteria and entry forms, go to www.sfwa.co.uk.