Wonderful woodland managament honoured in annual Tree Oscars

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The important work of land agents in creating high-quality forestry was rewarded at Scotland’s annual ‘Tree Oscars’.

Bowlts and Bidwells shared the glory in two categories at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2019 – the biggest-ever celebration of forests, trees and woodlands, incuding a special Centenary Award to mark 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act. The one-off award went to Fort Augustus Woodlands in the Highlands, part of which includes the first site acquired by the Forestry Commission in Scotland in the same year as the 1919 Act.

Bidwells won in the New Native Woods category for its management work with Jahama Highland Estates, for Kinlochleven Native Woodland along the north and south banks of Loch Leven in Lochaber.

Jahama, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, was honoured for its extensive tree planting and natural regeneration programme on lands surrounding the aluminium smelter and hydro power station at Kinlochleven, which involved 150,000 native trees on the Mamore Estate, including Scots Pine, Eared Willow and Common Alder.

Surveys show native woodland cover has increased from 23% to 43% within the restoration area, with the judges saying: “The planting and natural regeneration of the 228ha Kinlochleven Native Woodland Restoration project has made, and continues to make, a significant impact on the long term future of native woodland in this part of the West Coast of Scotland.”

Head stalker for the Mamore Estate, Cameron Loudon, and senior forestry consultant at managing agent at Bidwells, Ian Stewart, collected the award on behalf of Jahama Highland Estates. Mr Loudon said: “I feel honoured to accept this award on behalf of a team whose hard work has been the defining feature of this restoration project for almost two decades. We look forward to continuing to deliver our wider vision for woodland expansion and conservation across the estates.”

Bowlts foresters Dr Ben Lennon and Ben Watson also attended the awards ceremony at the Royal Highland Show, with James Baillie, the owner of Scaniport Estate on the banks of the River Ness. They collected the John Kennedy Trophy for Multi-purpose Woodlands in the Quality Timber category for Darroch Wood on the Scaniport Estate.

The woodland has been managed by Bowlts on behalf of the Estate for the last 20 years and judges said: “The stands of Douglas Fir and Larch in Darroch Woods can only be described as magnificent both in terms of timber quality and visual appeal.  The conifers run into extensive oakwoods and both provide an exceptional backdrop for the network of footpaths through the wood and the walking / cycling route between Inverness and Dores.  This is high quality recreation.

“The owner is committed to managing the woods as continuous cover forests which will safeguard the social, economic and environmental benefits for the long term and given the quality of the timber, the woods currently, and will continue, to provide a significant economic benefit for the owner.”

There was a huge diversity of winners in what Fergus Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, described as “a huge year for forestry, with full devolution and the smashing of our ambitious planting targets.” He added:  “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."

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland's Finest Woods, the independent charity that runs the annual Awards programme, said: "Our biggest programme since the Awards were established in 1985 has been one of the best. We have seen superb entries from across Scotland, showcasing the wonderful diversity of our forests and woods and the wide-ranging skills of the people managing them. The skilled management of those forests is crucial and Bidwells and Bowlts are just two examples of exceptional and consistent management across the country.”

“The future looks very bright for forestry in Scotland, in all its forms.”

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: The Firm of 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 – North Region team.

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

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

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