FARMERS WHO have created quality woodlands are being invited to highlight their excellence – and their climate change credentials – by entering the 'Tree Oscars', Scotland's Finest Woods Awards.

Last year's awards were cancelled because of the pandemic, so this new round will include entries carried forward from 2020 as well as 2021's crop. The awards will include a new category for Climate Change Champion, alongside two Farm Woodland Awards, one of which is an open competition and the other restricted to younger entrants.

The main farm woodlands award earns the winner the magnificent Lilburn Trophy, gifted by the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. In 2019, this went to John Drysdale and Kieran Kelly for Kilrie Farm, Kirkcaldy, Fife, while Peter Gascoigne – the first winner of the Farm Woodland award in 2018 for his farm in Broughton, Peeblesshire – was among the commended entries.

Peter Gascoigne, the inaugural winner of the Farm Woodland award in 2018

Peter Gascoigne, the inaugural winner of the Farm Woodland award in 2018

The Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People was introduced in 2019, with Sandra Baer and Lynn Cassells of Lynbreck Croft, near Grantown-on-Spey, winning the inaugural prize. It is once again open to any farmer or crofter, and/or their forester/woodland manager, who is over 16 and under 41 on the awards’ closing date of March 31.

NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick said: “For a significant number of NFUS members, forestry and farm woodlands have become an increasingly important strand to the business, bringing a myriad of benefits including biodiversity, animal shelter and alternative income streams. It is clear that high-quality farm woodlands are an important part of the mosaic of 21st century land management in Scotland.”

The awards’ judges will be looking for 'exemplary use of both woodland and agricultural practice with benefits being delivered to both the farming/crofting operation and quality of woodland management'.

Scottish Woodlands' managing director, Ralland Browne, said: “Our Farm Woodland award for young people continues to emphasise the fact that farming and forestry can work together successfully. Woodland can assist by bringing less productive areas of a farm into use, as well as improving the health and value of livestock - and delivering an additional long-term income stream to support a more diversified rural business.”

Lynn Cassells of Lynbreck Croft, near Grantown-on-Spey, which won the inaugural Young Peoples prize

Lynn Cassells of Lynbreck Croft, near Grantown-on-Spey, which won the inaugural Young People's prize

Senior forestry consultant at SAC Consulting – sponsor of the overall Farm woodland Award – Malcolm Young, said: “The 2018 and 2019 competitions showcased some of the highest quality farm woodland across Scotland and SAC is very happy the awards are back to uncover more great examples and reward them in 2021. The Climate Change Champion Award is a very positive addition to the programme to reflect the growing significance of trees and woodlands in meeting net zero carbon targets.”

Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “During the current climate emergency, Scotland’s trees have a bigger role than ever to play as they are helping remove harmful CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. By planting more trees we can remove even more emissions and our increasing planting targets reflect this. The addition of the Climate Change Champion Award in the year of COP26 is very welcome in highlighting the contribution of trees to Scotland’s ambition to reach net zero by 2045.”