A 2020 Vision: To find Scotland's finest forests and woodlands

9 January 2020

The annual search to find Scotland’s finest forests and most wonderful woods has begun.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2020 - supported by Confor - celebrates the programme’s 35th anniversary and builds on its biggest-ever year in 2019, when Fort Augustus Woodlands won the one-off 1919 Forestry Act Centenary Award. 

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “2019 was a hugely significant year for trees in Scotland, with planting targets surpassed, full devolution of forestry policy and the centenary of the 1919 Act. 

“We were delighted to celebrate that by honouring a range of brilliant winners, from a nursery school helping children discover the wonder of trees to experienced professionals for managing a large forest over several generations. The challenge is to find more wonderful winners to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Awards in 2020.” 

The 2019 winners stretched from Michaelswood Public Amenity in Aith, Shetland (winner of the Small Community Woodland Group Award) to Beirhope, near Kelso, in the Scottish Borders - winner of the New Commercial Woodlands Awards. 

“The Awards have always had a wide geographical reach, as well as reflecting the huge variety of excellent woods and forests in Scotland and I’m sure that 2020 will be no exception,” Angela Douglas added. 

Apart from the one-off Centenary Award, all other prizes are back for 2020, including  two Farm Woodland Awards. The Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People (Farm Woodland Award) was awarded for the first time in 2019 and won by the  Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer for Lynbreck Croft, Grantown on Spey. 

The Young People Award is for farmers or crofters and/or their forest or woodland managers aged 40 or under. SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), sponsors the overall Farm Woodland Award, won in 2019 by John Drysdale and Kieran Kelly for Kilrie Farm, Kirkcaldy, Fife. 

The popular Crown Estate Schools’ Trophy returns, won in 2019 by Earthtime Forest School Nursery in Duffus, Moray, with Levenmouth Academy, Buckhaven, Fife, named runner-up for helping to plant 8,000 trees beside the school. 

Presenting the 2019 Awards, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP said: "It's wonderful to see young people in Scotland, from nursery through to secondary school, engaging with trees and our natural environment in such a positive way. We know how children benefit from learning outdoors and it is great to see forests and woodlands playing a big part in that.” 

Other returning Awards 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). 

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, who has presented the awards for the last three years, said: "We are in a golden era for forestry and woods in Scotland and Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards celebrate the huge variety of excellence across the country. The winners represent those exceptional individuals and groups who create fantastic spaces to allow us all to enjoy our forests and woods.” 

Entries must be submitted by 31st March 2020. Respected, experienced judges assess competitive entries to select category winners. For the full list of awards, criteria and entry forms, go to www.sfwa.co.uk

* Picture shows pupils outside Levenmouth Academy in Buckhaven, Fife, where 8000 trees have been planted, including an orchard and community garden.