Land and estate owners in Scotland have been invited to submit entries to an awards programme which recognises the country's highest-quality forests and woodland.
Scotland's Finest Woods Awards 2017 is seeking superb examples of woodland creation and management to match some of the 2016 winners - including Sutherland Estates in the far north and Carrick Estate, near Lochgoilhead, Argyll,
Sutherland Estates Forestry at Golspie won the Quality Timber Award for a whole estate in 2016, with the judges praising both the broadleaf and conifer woodlands, and the general quality of the silviculture on the estate.
Bruce Taylor of Scottish Woodlands, who has overseen the management of the estate's woodlands for more than 25 years, said: "We have done a lot to bring woods into management - much more of the area is productive and the broadleaf planting, which people might have thought wouldn't have worked, has encouraged the public in. A mix of broadleaves, including silver birch, birch oak, beech, cherry and ash, was planted 20 years ago. Broadleaf woodland management is quite unusual so far north, but it has worked well."
The citation by the judges said: “The estate is an excellent example of multi-purpose management for timber production, tourism linked to Dunrobin Castle grounds and wider community and environmental benefit.” Mr Taylor said the community had been particularly involved in footpath projects linked to the estate woodland.
The judges were also highly impressed by the winner of the the Quality Timber Award for new commercial woodland, Carrick Estate in Argyll. Their citation also praised the combination of conifer and broadleaf, describing it as "a well-designed scheme which shows the ability of the design process to accommodate significant environmental interests within an extensive commercial forest."
The judges also said: "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."
Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland's Finest Woods, said: “The Awards reward everything that is good about our forests and woodlands. We has some superb winners in 2016 and we know there are many more great forests and woodlands out there, so we look forward to another top quality year in 2017.”
Entries close on 31st March. Full details, including criteria and entry forms, are available at http://www.sfwa.co.uk/awards-2017/