A COUPLE who planted 14,000 trees and a primary school which moved learning outdoors during the pandemic have been named among the winners at Scotland’s Tree Oscars.

Mike and Fiona Coulthard won the new native woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards for “patience and perseverance” planting trees in Scalpay. The isle is an exposed peninsula off the Isle of Harris, and its rock and peat land, grazing sheep, and the constant buffering by wind and salt makes growing anything challenging.

The judges reported: “Growing any trees on this site is an achievement – both ecologically and culturally – and for this the applicants are to be congratulated. This project sets out 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.”

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Grandtully Primary School in Pitlochry took the joint win for Schools Award after taking 80% of its learning outside. Judges said: “This is a beautiful example of how Covid helped take learning outdoors. The school grounds are wonderfully developed by the children and the community for human play and learning, but also for wildlife.

“The children have planted many trees and hedges, built structures from wood, made a wildlife watching area and much more.”

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards, also known as the Tree Oscars, is an annual event celebrating forestry and woodlands presented at the Royal Highland Show in Ingliston.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan, 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.

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“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 special spotlight on young people of nursery and school ages, farm and community woodlands – and excellence in creating new productive and native woods.”

Other prize winners included community woodland award winner Taliesin Community Woodland in Dumfries and Galloway, and farm woodland award winners Williamwood in Lockerbie and Knockbain Farm in Dingwall.

Angela Douglas, Scotland’s Finest Woods executive director, said: “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!”