Tilhill Forestry has won the James Jones Trophy for the Best New Commercial Woodland in the Quality Timber Award category at the 2019 Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.
The event recognises excellence in forests, woodlands and forest-related projects across Scotland.
The winning property, Beirhope, located near Hownam, Kelso, in the Scottish Borders is managed by the company’s Central Borders Team.
Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, presented the trophy to Jason Sinden of Gresham House who received it on behalf of Beirhope’s owner Mervyn Harrison. Accompanying Sinden to receive the award was Tilhill’s forest manager, Andy Dunsmuir.
Ewing said: “I’m delighted the First Minister was able to attend today to highlight the success of the forestry industry in Scotland.
“This is a huge year for forestry, with full devolution and the smashing of our ambitious planting targets.
“We are achieving on both quantity and quality as these annual Awards so clearly demonstrate – and it is an enormous pleasure to recognise the exceptional quality on show at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards.
“The winners represent the very best of Scotland – skilled, passionate individuals and groups who are committed to creating fantastic spaces to allow us all to enjoy our forests and woods.”
Beirhope is a 211-hectare property planted in 2016 utilising a variety of species with a predominance of improved Sitka spruce. The long-term plan was to achieve a productive scheme for the client, working within the constraints of the UK Forest Standard (UKFS) and the local environment. The property is now an excellent example of a well-designed forest.
Judges at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards said: “This is an excellent example of what can be achieved in a new commercial woodland. Everything about it is impressive from the improved Norway spruce to high-quality machine planting of Sitka. Planning and design have been very effective and the team have clearly worked closely with archaeological interests given the adjacent Roman road and scheduled Iron Age hill fort.
“A great deal of care has gone into appropriate cultivation and the establishment of what will become a commercial forest of consistently high quality. The owners have invested in a quality internal road network and are working hard to achieve the best option for access onto the public road.”
This year’s programme included a special Centenary Award to mark 100 years since the 1919 Forestry Act that created the Forestry Commission and recognised the importance of forestry in our country. This unique, one-off award is for woodland management that has adapted to change and shows resilience both from the past and in preparation for future generations.
Tilhill Forestry was therefore delighted to collect a commendation within this unique Centenary Award for the management of Minto Forest near Hawick owned by Bagold Ltd as the second win of the day.
Eddie Addis, district manager for the Central Borders Team was presented with the award by Fergus Ewing MSP.
Tilhill’s forestry director, Tim Liddon said: “I am absolutely delighted that Tilhill Forestry has once again been announced as winners at the Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards. I am extremely proud of the hard work and effort that has been put into both the winning properties on behalf of our clients. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
Angela Douglas, executive director of Scotland’s Finest Woods, the independent charity that runs the annual wwards programme in partnership with 18 organisations, said: “This has been our biggest ever programme and one of the best years of the awards that were first established in 1985.
“We have seen some excellent entries and amazing diversity in all its forms. Prize winners include everyone from nursery pupils to foresters with more than 50 years of experience, sites from Shetland to Kelso to Dalbeattie and from Iona to Fife to Moray and small entirely voluntary community woodland groups to large commercial, professionally managed forests.
“This goes to show that trees, woods and forests are valued and enjoyed by as well as providing all sorts of benefits for everyone all over Scotland. The future looks very secure in the next generation’s hands.”