Forestry communities’ worth to Scotland ‘incalculable’ says Fergus Ewing

SCOTLAND’S rural affairs secretary has hailed the importance of woodlands to the nation’s communities as ‘incalculable’.

Fergus Ewing MSP, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “Forestry and timber is worth £1 billion annually to Scotland’s economy and employs more than 25,000 people.

“But its wider social, educational and environmental value to communities and individuals is incalculable.”His comments came at the launch of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards which aims to help showcase their importance to health and wealth of communities.

He added: “The people who win these Awards are passionate and united by a desire to sustain, maintain, expand and most importantly enjoy our forests and woodland.

“It is fantastic that Scotland’s Finest Woods recognises and celebrates the contribution that people from across Scotland make in their hard work to support their local communities and the environment.”

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Last year’s winners came from from the Borders Forest Trust Carrifran Wildwood Group in the south to the Airor Common Grazings in Knoydart in the north west.

They included Scotland’s largest productive planting scheme of the modern era (at Jerah, near Menstrie, Clackmannanshire) and a primary school in South Lanarkshire.

“We have some of the world’s finest-quality forests and woods in Scotland and our annual programme sets out to find them and reward them for their excellence,” said Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods.

Schools - Winner - Underbank Primary School

“That involves showcasing everything from educating children about the wonder of woodlands to rewarding highly-skilled forest management, excellent community woodland projects, superb new native and commercial woodland creation and the production of quality timber.

“There is wonderful work going on across Scotland – but it is often done by modest people, away from the public gaze. The Awards aim to seek out our woodland stars and to shine a light on their work and give them the recognition they deserve.”

The winners will be honoured at an annual Awards presentation at the Royal Highland Show in June. Applications are now open for 2018, with striking 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 covering everything from a ‘stand’ or small group of trees right through to a whole forest or estate, with magnificent trophies and £3,000 in total prize money. In 2017, the winner of the new commercial woodland category was Mr John Hartz and Tilhill Forestry for Jerah, near Sheriffmuir, Dunblane.

The Awards programme hopes for high-quality entries in all quality timber categories – a single stand or compartment of trees or a small wood (last won in 2016 by Forest Enterprise Scotland for part of Errochty Forest, Perthshire) and whole estates/large multi-purpose forests (won in 2016 by Sutherland Estates, Golspie managed by Scottish Woodlands Ltd.). Neither award was made in 2017 and entries are encouraged for 2018.

The New Native Woods Award is awarded for the skilled delivery of high-quality young native woods. The high quality of entries was reflected by joint winners in 2017 – the Borders Forest Trust Wildwood Group (for Carrifran Wildwood, Moffat Hills) and the National Trust for Scotland for Mar Lodge Estate Pinewoods, Braemar, in the Cairngorms National Park.

The Crown Estate Schools Trophy, won in 2017 by Underbank Primary School in Crossford, South Lanarkshire, rewards 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 wooden products.

The Large Community Woodland Award – for community and urban woodlands or other social projects which demonstrate sustainable development involving the community with their environment – was won in 2017 by Airor Common Grazings Native Woodland in Knoydart (which also won the Tim Stead Trophy for the overall best Community Woodland).

The Small Community Woodland Award was won by Doune Ponds in Perthshire for involving the community with their woodland environment and thereby enhancing the lives of local people.

 

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WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read:  Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards

IMAGE CREDITS: Crown Estates/Scottish Finest Woods Awards

Shaun Milne is a Scottish based journalist with a particular interest in environmental issues, politics and travel.

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