Tilhill Forestry is celebrating after winning the James Jones trophy for new commercial woodlands for the company’s work at Carrick Estate in Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.
The category Tilhill Forestry won this year was open to woodland anywhere in Scotland where production of high-quality timber is a major objective of management. The criteria specified that the woodland had to be newly planted, productive and predominantly conifer woodland of 10 hectares or more, planted between the 2009/10 and 2014/15 seasons and established on previously bare land where the planning, practice and management regime is designed to result in high-quality timber production. It is the fifth year in a row that Tilhill Forestry has won a Scotland’s Finest Woods Award.
Senior Forest Manager for Tilhill Forestry Ross Buchanan said: “We were absolutely thrilled to win the James Jones trophy. It is recognition for everyone involved in this complex project which involved hundreds of hours of planning, surveying, consulting, compromising, and creating to accomplish the design and the implementation of the final product.
“We hope that this scheme can represent a flagship example of what can be achieved in terms of productive woodland creation in modern Scotland. This has been accomplished in a manner which positively satisfies multiple objectives but which also puts a heavy weighting on the value of timber production.
“This was a project of immense proportions, not only in terms of scale but in terms of the iterative efforts involved over the course of some years in producing a proposal that was agreeable to all stakeholders and which met challenging client expectations. The scheme represents a shining example of multi-purpose forestry within the modern industry in terms of what it is achieving within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Carrick delivers at a landscape level, silviculturally in terms of core timber production, environmentally in terms of the extensive broadleaf component and development of such a major carbon sink, for wildlife in terms of the careful design and augmentation of natural habitat for eagle prey species, and recreationally in terms of the extensive access that has been developed across the property.
“This result demonstrates the collaborative abilities of Tilhill, as the forestry market leader, to overcome the associated obstacles of implementing woodland-creation schemes on this scale. Tilhill Forestry brings many extras to the table as part of the big picture which competitors simply cannot offer such as in-house ecologists. It should also be noted that a block of mature woodland, which had previously been land-locked within the confines of the estate, is now being harvested and extracted using innovative sea-based methods by Tilhill’s harvesting team, in partnership with Tilhill Forestry and the owner.
“Ultimately kudos must go to the contractors who persevered on what was an extreme morale-sapping site day after day in all weathers, to deliver an award-winning scheme. Special thanks must go to Willy Ronald the ground preparation contractor who was instrumental in achieving the result within a tight time-frame and supplier Maelor Forest Nurseries. It has been my honour to once again be centrally involved in working on a high-profile award-winning project for the West Highland District of Tilhill, and it is a source of pride to have done so as part of the Tilhill team.”
The judges said: “This scheme presented substantial conservation challenges over and above its presence in the national park. The fundamental research and survey work carried out as part of the environmental assessment process will certainly benefit future similarly sensitive forestry proposals. The extent of native woodland establishment and designed open space within the plantation will ensure long- term conservation benefits while the extensive areas of Sitka spruce will provide a valuable commercial resource for the future.
“The potential to export timber from the site by sea is already being demonstrated as timber from existing adjacent plantations is being shipped to the South West. This is a well-designed scheme which shows the ability of the design process to accommodate significant environmental interests within an extensive commercial forest.”
The owner has purchased Carrick farm and a number of surrounding properties with the idea of undertaking ecological restoration on the bulk of the estate, utilising core timber production areas as a financial driver.
As part of the planting of Carrick Woodland some 409 ha of productive crop were planted consisting of – 850,000 Sitka spruce, 40,000 Norway spruce, 24,100 Scots pine, 2,000 Japanese red cedar. Some 140 hectares of scots pine, birch, rowan, oak, cherry, willow, wild cherry, and alder were also planted under the Forestry Commission Native Broadleaf planting model as part of the landscape design and as habitat within the estate.
Around 220,000 mixed-origin vegetatively propagated Sitka spruce were planted as part of the scheme in order to maximise productivity on some of the more fertile sections of the site.
Woodland creation has been especially sensitive on this site as the main water supply for the village below flows from the forest area and golden eagles hunt over part of the estate. This scheme represents a manifestation of the integration of multiple uses within the forest landscape, with timber production being a predominant function.
Tim Liddon, Director of Forestry for Tilhill, said: "I am extremely proud of our staff and delighted for our clients that our first-class forestry work in Scotland had been recognised once again. These awards give independent, third-party endorsement to our expertise and confirm our status as a leading company in our sector."
Tilhill Forestry has an outstanding track record of winning Scotland’s Finest Woods trophies with ten awards over a six-year period in our name. Our diversity is apparent as we have won awards in the Forest Management, Native Woodlands and Commercial Woodlands categories. 2012 saw the inclusion of the Commercial Woodland category for the first time in the awards. The James Jones award for new commercial woodlands has always been awarded to a Tilhill Forestry managed project - Annelshope in 2012, Auchlochan in 2013, Glen Orchy in 2014, Warroch Hill in 2015 and now Carrick in 2016.
Scotland's Finest Woods Awards are run by independent charity, Scotland's Finest Woods and celebrate the contribution that woodlands can make to the people of Scotland and to its environment and economic prosperity. For a ‘virtual’ tour of all awarded entries this year see go to 2016 SFWA.