Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’ back with renewed climate focus

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Scotland’s ‘Tree Oscars’ are back for 2022 after a highly successful programme in 2021 saw worthy winners ranging from the country’s largest landowner Anders Holch Povlsen to a tiny nursery school.

Mr Povlsen and Wildland Ltd won the prize for New Native Woods in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2021, for Killiehuntly in the Cairngorms – while Perth Outdoor Playgroup won the award for an early years education provider instilling a love of woods in young children.

The 2022 Awards will see a renewed focus on climate change after forestry and wood played a central part in discussions at COP26. The first Climate Change Champion prize was handed out at the 2021 Awards, with Ayrshire estate owner Andrew Sinclair honoured for his work at Balbeg.

“The award was handed out just two months before COP26, where we saw the signing of a Leaders’ Declaration on Forestry and Land Use, and the launch of the Time for Timber global wood use manifesto,” said Angela Douglas FICFor, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods. “The world is increasingly understanding that trees and wood are vital to tackling climate change and I’m so delighted that our Climate Change Champion Award is back.”

With 80% of the UK’s new woodland currently being planted in Scotland, and continued Scottish Government support for ambitious tree planting targets, organisers hope for another exceptional set of winners in 2022.

“Anyone with a genuinely high-quality project has a chance to win an award, whether that’s Scotland’s largest landowner or a small nursery school, or a farmer discovering the benefits of trees to an experienced forester creating a model woodland,” said Angela.

The Scottish Government showed its support for the awards last year, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcing the Schools and Early Years Awards and Environment Minister Máiri McAllan – whose brief covers forestry – revealing the Community Woodlands winners.

Ms McAllan said: “I was delighted to be involved in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards for the first time in 2021, and to celebrate an amazing collection of winners.

“The addition of the Climate Change Champion and Early Years Awards in 2021 illustrated the importance of woodland in supporting Scotland’s world-leading climate change ambitions – and engaging young people in trees and woods at a young age. All the winners were clearly passionate about high-quality woodlands, and I look forward to another year of exceptional entries to celebrate this new golden era of forestry in Scotland.”

The Climate Change Champion Award, sponsored by CarbonStore, is chosen by judges. Category entrants, including schools or nurseries, can choose to enter this award alone or enter more than one award category.

The Climate Change Champion Award has been developed in partnership with Forest Research, who will again provide expert judges in 2022. Professor Chris Quine, Chief Scientist at Forest Research, led the team assessing the entries, and said the 2021 winner – Balbeg Estate’s Bennan Hill – “demonstrated an integrated approach to tackling climate change throughout its activities with actions relating to mitigation, adaptation and knowledge exchange” and “a strong commitment and a real consistency of vision”.

All the other popular categories return in the long-running Awards, which were held online in 2021 after a 2020 Covid-cancellation.

“We hope to return to a live event at our traditional venue, the Royal Highland Show, as it celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2022,” said Guy Watt, Chair of Scotland’s Finest Woods, the charity which operates the programme. “However, we need to keep our options open and that means planning for a possible hybrid, or entirely online, event, if circumstances dictate.”

Regular Award categories return, including the ever-popular Crown Estate Scotland Schools Award, won by Pitlochry High School in 2021. The Quality Timber Awards return too, with three different categories: new commercial wood, multi-purpose forest or whole estate, and a single stand/compartment or small wood.

The two Farm Woodland Awards are back – the Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People won in 2021 by Nikki and James Yoxall of Howemill near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, and the SAC Consulting-sponsored award for any farm woodland, won in 2021 by Wendy Seel and Anne Taylor, who run an organic vegetable business at Midmar, Aberdeenshire

Entries must be submitted by 31st March 2022. For full details, criteria and entry forms, visit www.sfwa.co.uk

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