Search on for Scotland’s finest woods

Kilfinan Community Forest, Argyll.
Kilfinan Community Forest, Argyll.

The search has begun 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 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.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, said: “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.

“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.

“It is wonderful to see applications coming from all corners of Scotland and the winners celebrating success at our annual Awards presentation at the Royal Highland Show in June.”

Applications are now open for 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); a small wood or a single stand or compartment of trees (won in 2016 by Forest Enterprise for part of Errochty Forest, Perthshire); whole estates/large multi-purpose forests (won in 2016 by Sutherland Estates, Golspie).

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, an award made at the judges’ discretion, was won in 2016 by Forest Enterprise Scotland for its work in Sibster Forest, Caithness.

Entries are accepted up to March 31, 2017. Full details, including criteria and entry forms, are available at the awards section of www.sfwa.co.uk.