First Minister highlights value of trees to saving the planet

21 June 2019

Young people in Scotland understand the value of trees and the huge role they can play in tackling climate change to safeguard the future of our planet, Nicola Sturgeon told an awards ceremony today. 

Presenting the schools prizes at the 2019 Scotland's Finest Woods Awards to Earthtime Forest School Nursery in Duffus, north of Elgin and Levenmouth Academy in Fife, the First Minister 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.  

"Almost 85 per cent of all new tree planting in the UK is happening in Scotland - and the younger generation is increasingly aware how important those trees are to our future. We are in the midst of a climate emergency and planting trees is vital if we are to tackle that emergency head on. In Scotland, we are leading the way towards a net zero world. It is clear to me that we have a committed and enthusiastic next generation ready to take up the climate challenge - including planting tens of millions more trees. 

“Well done to all the winners at Scotland's Finest Woods Awards today - and especially those young people who will help us deliver a cleaner, greener future for our planet. We know how children benefit from learning outdoors and it is great to see forests and woodlands playing a big part in that learning.” 

Youngsters at Earthtime Forest School Nursery can enjoy their entire nursery session in the forest kindergarten, while Levenmouth pupils have helped to plant 9000 trees next to the school in Buckhaven, Fife. 

The Awards programme recognises excellence in forests, woodlands and forest-related projects across Scotland. This year's programme included a special Centenary Award to mark 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act that created the Forestry Commission and recognised the importance of forestry in our country.  

The unique, one-off Award - for woodland management that has adapted to change and shows resilience for the  future - was won by Fort Augustus Woodlands in the Highlands, managed by Forestry and Land Scotland, a new body created on 1 April when forestry was completely devolved to Scotland.  Abriachan Forest Trust, a 540-hectare community forest beside Loch Ness, was runner-up. 

Winners and commended entries came from across Scotland - from Shetland, where Michaelswood Public Amenity, won the Community Woodlands Award, to Kelso in the Scottish Borders, home to Beirhope, winner of the New Commercial Woods prize. 

Commendations in the Farm Woodland Award stretched as far west as Dalry in Ayrshire and a croft woodland on the Isle of Iona.  The two Farm Woodland Award winners of the magnificent Lilburn Trophy came from Fife and the new ‘Young People’ Trophy was won by crofters near Grantown on Spey in the Cairngorms. 

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, who also presented the awards, praised Confor and its members for their key role in "smashing" Scotland's planting target of 10,000 hectares and being part of a strong Team Scotland effort to put forestry on the map.

He said: "I'm delighted the First Minister was able to attend today to highlight the success of the forestry industry in Scotland. This is a huge year for forestry, with full devolution and the smashing of our ambitious planting targets. We are achieving on both quantity and quality as these annual Awards so clearly demonstrate - and it is an enormous pleasure to recognise the exceptional quality on show at Scotland's Finest Woods Awards. The winners represent the very best of Scotland - skilled, passionate individuals and groups who are committed to creating fantastic spaces to allow us all to enjoy our forests and woods." 

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland's Finest Woods, the independent charity that runs the annual Awards programme in an impressive partnership with 18 organisations, said: "This has been our biggest ever programme and one of the best years of the Awards that were first established in 1985. We have seen some excellent entries and amazing diversity in all its forms. 

“Trees, woods and forests are valued and enjoyed by as well as providing all sorts of benefits for everyone all over Scotland - and as the First Minister says, the future looks very secure in the next generation's hands." 

Full list of Awards

Schools Award

Winner: Earthtime Forest School Nursery, Duffus, Moray

Runner-Up: Levenmouth Academy, Buckhaven, Fife.

Community Woodlands

Large Community Woodland

Winner: Gifford Community Woodland, East Lothian.

Highly Commended: Beechbrae Wood, Blackridge, West Lothian.

Small Community Woodland Group

Winner: Michaelswood Public Amenity, Aith, Shetland [and overall winner of the Community Woodland Award and Tim Stead Trophy]

Highly Commended: Doune Ponds, from Perthshire.

New Native Woods

Jahama Highland Estates, for Kinlochleven Native Woodland, Lochaber (managed by Bidwells).

Quality Timber Awards

New Commercial Woods

Winner: Mervyn Harrison, Beirhope, near Hownam, Kelso, Scottish Borders (managed by Tilhill Forestry)

Commended: K & J Walker for Whitehillshiel Forest, Hawick (managed by Scottish Woodlands Ltd).

Small Wood, Compartment or Single Stand of Trees  

David Shepherd & Annie Griffiths for Craggach Woods, Kirkhill, near Inverness

Whole Forest or Estate

James Evan Baillie for Darroch Wood, Scaniport Estate on the banks of the river Ness, south of Inverness (managed by Bowlts Chartered Surveyors).

Farm Woodland Awards

Scottish Woodlands Ltd. Trophy for Young People

Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer, Lynbreck Croft, Grantown on Spey.

Lilburn Trophy for all farm or croft woodland

Winner: John Drysdale farmer & Kieran Kelly, forestry manager, Kilrie Farm, Kirkcaldy, Fife.

Highly Commended: Peter Gascoigne, Gascoigne Farm Ltd., Broughton, Peeblesshire.

Commended: W Shanks, Kerslochmuir, Dalry, Ayrshire (managed by Scottish Woodlands) and John MacLean, Lagandorain, Isle of Iona.

1919 Forestry Act Centenary Award.

Winner: Fort Augustus Woodlands managed by Forestry and Land Scotland.

Highly Commended: Abriachan Forest Trust, Loch Ness-side, Inverness-shire

Commended: Bagold Ltd, Minto Woodland, Denholm, Hawick (managed by Tilhill

Forestry) and Llanarth Estate for Kirkennan Woodland, by Palnackie, Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway (managed by Scottish Woodlands Ltd)