Finding the Finest Farm Woods in Scotland

Fergus Ewing presenting the Young People Farm Woodland Award to Sandra Baer (centre) and Lynn Casells, Lynbreck Croft. Credit: Julie Broadfoot
Hannah Downey

The annual search to find Scotland’s finest farm woodlands has begun - with two prizes of £1000 up for grabs.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2020 celebrates the programme’s 35th anniversary and builds on its biggest-ever year in 2019, with both farm woodland competitions returning after a fierce contest in 2019.

There is an ‘open’ Farm Woodland category and a specific award for younger farmers or crofters (and/or their forest managers) aged between 16 and 40 on deadline day, 31st March.

Commendations in the overall Farm Woodland Award 2019 stretched from Peeblesshire, where Peter Gascoigne farms, to Dalry in Ayrshire (W Shanks at Kerslochmuir, managed by Scottish Woodlands Ltd) and a croft woodland at Lagandorain on the Isle of Iona. 

The overall Farm Woodland Award Winner was Kilrie Farm, near Kirkcaldy, Fife (owner John Drysdale and forester Kieran Kelly) and the ‘Young People’ Trophy - new for 2019 - was won by crofters Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer for Lynbreck Croft, near Grantown-on-Spey in the Cairngorms.

The judges said Kilrie Farm was “an excellent example of an integrated woodland on a farm” where the owners had “displayed a tremendous enthusiasm and pride in what had been achieved over the years [with] plans well in place to achieve a viable and sustainable woodland enterprise. Already, the woodlands are generating significant employment and plans are in place to look at adding value from the forestry business.”

Explaining why trees are so important at Lynbeck Croft, Lynn Cassells said: “We have tried to achieve full integration of the trees and woodland into the croft business. They are a valuable asset in terms of shelter for animals and fuel for us – as well as everything they do for biodiversity and soaking up carbon.”

The Young People Award was gifted by sponsor Scottish Woodlands Ltd, while SAC Consulting sponsors the overall Farm Woodland Award.

Angela Douglas, Executive Director of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, said: “We are very grateful to SAC Consulting and Scottish Woodlands Ltd for helping to establish the Farm Woodland Awards with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland - and to all our very generous sponsors.”

She added: “2019 was a hugely significant year for trees in Scotland, with planting targets surpassed - including the creation of a large number of small woodland areas on farms - plus full devolution of forestry policy and the centenary of the 1919 Act. We were delighted to celebrate that by honouring a range of brilliant winners. Now the challenge is to find more wonderful winners to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Awards in 2020.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, who has presented the awards for the last three years, said: "The winners represent those exceptional individuals and groups who create fantastic spaces to allow us all to enjoy our forests and woods.”

Other awards in the programme include the popular Crown Estate Schools’ Trophy, won in 2019 by Earthtime Forest School Nursery in Duffus, Moray, with Levenmouth Academy, Buckhaven, Fife, named runner-up for helping to plant 8,000 trees beside the school.

Also returning Awards are: Community Woodlands (two competitions: small and large community woodland groups); New Native Woods; and Quality Timber (three competitions: new commercial wood; multi-purpose forest or whole estate; and a single stand/compartment or small wood)

Entries must be submitted by 31st March 2020. For the full list of awards, criteria and entry forms, go to

  • Scotland's Finest Woods Awards is an independent charity and relies on the generosity of supporters. The 2020 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards Delivery Partners are: BSW Timber; Crown Estate Scotland; Egger Forestry; Forestry and Land Scotland; Iggesund Forestry; James Jones & Sons Ltd; Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland; SAC Consulting; Scottish Woodlands Ltd; Tilhill Forestry; and Woodland Trust Scotland. Supporters are: Alba Trees; Caledonia Play; Central Scotland Green Network Trust; Community Woodlands Association; Confor; Institute of Chartered Foresters; and the Royal Scottish Forestry Society.