Final chance for Scotland’s wonderful woods and fine forests

Forest on Sutherland Estate. Picture: Contributed

Forest on Sutherland Estate. Picture: Contributed

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WOODLANDS and forests across Scotland are being urged to enter a national awards programme which closes to entries on Friday.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2017 will recognise and celebrate the very best forests and woods across the country – from large estates to forest schools.

Last year, Sutherland Estates in Golspie won the Quality Timber Award for a whole estate, while a small nursery on the outskirts of Glasgow picked up the schools award.

Other winners included Allt Charmaig on the banks of Loch Tummel, Kilfinan Community Forest in Argyll and Evanton Community Forest, near Dingwall.

The previous winners urged anyone thinking of entering to do so quickly and said the entry process was quick and painless.

Jacqui O’Donnell, deputy head at Gavinburn Early Years and Education Centre at Old Kilpatrick, near Glasgow, said: “We are in a deprived area of Scotland, on the outskirts of Clydebank with real poverty issues.

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“It’s not an area you would associate with forestry, but we have created a forest school and the kids absolutely love it.

“They like the campfire, climbing the trees, forest games, wildlife hunting and making things.

“A forest school enables children growing up in a digital world to explore nature in a fun way and to connect with it. It’s planting the seeds for the future.”

Simon Harry, education and outreach co-ordinator at Evanton Community Wood near Dingwall, Ross-shire, which has won awards for the past two years, said: “When people visit Evanton, it’s what they picture a wood should be like – lots of different types of trees, good paths, a big shelter, lots going on.

“It’s safe and hard to get lost, but you can walk 15 minutes down the footpath and feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

“Evanton is a real community forest, open to everybody - schools, mental health groups, people with physical disabilities and the long-term unemployed.

“We build people’s confidence in a place they enjoy. We are also working on a major project to help people with dementia – a pilot project has had an amazing impact. People recall things from their childhood and early adulthood when they spent time in the woods.”

Bruce Taylor of Scottish Woodlands, who manages the Sutherland Forest Estate at Golspie – winner of the Quality Timber award for a whole estate in 2016 – said: “We have planted a lot of broadleaf since the 1990s to complement the landscape, with some formal avenues and a mixture of silver birch, oak, beech, cherry and ash.

“Broadleaf woodland management is quite unusual so far north but it has worked very well with a variety of trees of different ages, from some very mature pine to the broadleaves from the 1990s.”

Angela Douglas, executive director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “Gavinburn Evanton and Sutherland were just three of our worthy winners in 2016 and we hope the 2017 entries are just as strong.

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“There is some brilliant work going on in our forests and woodlands and these awards shine a light on it.”

For more details and to enter the 2017 Awards: www.sfwa.co.uk

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