Tree Oscars reward excellence in forests and woods

Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the New Native Woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022. Photograph: Julie Broadfoot.

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A couple who planted 14,000 trees on a rocky peninsula in the Western Isles have been named winners at Scotland’s Tree Oscars.

Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the New Native Woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022 for ‘patience and perseverance’ in planting trees on a croft on the exposed peninsula at Ardnakille, Scalpay, off the Isle of Harris.

The Isle of Scalpay is a two-and-a-half square mile exposed peninsula of rock and peat constantly buffeted by wind and salt, making growing anything a challenge.

As well as the weather conditions, the couple had to protect saplings – grown from seed in fish boxes – from grazing sheep.

The judges reported: ‘Growing any trees on this site is an achievement – ecologically and culturally – and for this the applicants are to be congratulated.

‘This project is an example to others of what can be achieved under the least prepossessing environments and that we can all make a contribution to the environmental challenges we are facing.’

Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, who presented the awards, said: ‘Scotland boasts a strong woodland heritage that is admired by many countries and its international reputation for good woodland management is well deserved.

‘The awards celebrate the achievements and hard work of all those who create and care for our forests and woodlands and instil a love of trees in our young people.

‘This year, the judges’ results shine a spotlight on young people of nursery and school ages, farm and community woodlands and excellence in creating new productive and native woods.

‘Congratulations to all the winners who are keeping Scotland’s woodlands the finest they can be.’

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, added: ‘We’re delighted to have such a tremendous collection of winners and to be able to honour them in person for the first time since 2019.

‘The large number of excellent entries from schools and early years settings was particularly pleasing, showing the future of our fine forests and wonderful woodlands is clearly in good hands.’

Photograph: Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the New Native Woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022. Photograph: Julie Broadfoot. NO_F27_WoodlandTrustScotland Trophy_MikeAndFionaCoulthard_© Julie Broadfoot