With applications for this year’s RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards closing on 14 June, 2020 Forest and Woodland category winner Tweed Forum explains why the sector should get involved.

SCOTTISH Borders environmental charity Tweed Forum prides itself on being at the heart of land and water management on the Tweed. Since 1991, the charity has been promoting the sustainable use of the whole of the cross-border Tweed catchment through holistic and integrated management and planning.

Tweed Forum’s efforts were recognised in 2020 when the organisation received the prestigious Forest and Woodland award at the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards for its targeted approach to the planting of over 1 million trees in the region.

“Our project was called ‘Hitting the Spot – Targeted Trees on Tweed’. Working across the 5,000 km² Tweed catchment and with over 250 land managers and communities, Tweed Forum has facilitated the planting of over 1 million native broadleaved trees,” explained Luke Comins, Tweed Forum director.

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“The core aim has been to carry out targeted planting that delivers multiple benefits including enhancing biodiversity, improving water quality, reducing flooding and storing carbon. Our goal has been to plant the right tree, in the right place, and at the right scale to make a real difference. This work has been estimated to sequester over 250,000 tonnes of carbon.”

Forestry Journal: Tweed Forum director Luke Comins. (Photo: Paul Dodds).Tweed Forum director Luke Comins. (Photo: Paul Dodds).

Luke said it was important to share this “amazing milestone” and the charity wanted to give the people involved in its success – staff, landowners, farmers, funders and Forum members – the recognition they deserved for making it happen.

“It will hopefully demonstrate to others what can be achieved, and the knowledge learnt here can be transferred to instigate such projects elsewhere in Scotland.

“We were delighted to win an award. Being recognised in this way has led to a far greater awareness of our work, and us as an organisation. Many people have found out about us and got in touch as a result of the award.

“It gave great exposure to many of our key funders such as NatureScot, SEPA, Scottish Forestry, Forest Carbon and the Woodland Trust; and in many ways they shared the success through their support of us and the partnership approach we employ.”

Luke’s advice to any forestry or woodland organisations considering entering the 2021 Awards is simply: “Go for it!”

“It’s a fascinating process, as by entering it makes you take stock of the work you do. And also finding out about all the work of the other entrants and shortlisted projects,” he added.

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The Forest and Woodland category, sponsored by forestry trade association Confor, seeks to celebrate sustainable forestry and woodland champions and is open to applications from individuals, businesses, communities and organisations who are creating and/or managing woodlands at any scale. Last year’s shortlist included urban and rural projects and involved community groups, individuals, NGOs, statutory bodies, farmers and commercial foresters.

A spokesperson for the RSPB highlighted the vital role woodlands and forests play in providing nature-based solutions to the climate emergency the world faces, which is why it is so important to recognise the good work the sector is doing through the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards.

They said: “Given the value of trees, we need to take good care of them. We own and manage woodlands ourselves including Caledonian pinewood and western Atlantic woodlands, and we work with other woodland owners and managers to improve the biodiversity quality of their woodlands for bird species such as black grouse and capercaillie. We know there are lots of other landowners and people out there who are managing woodlands to help wildlife and deliver a range of other benefits and who are involved in woodland-creation projects of all kinds.”

Other categories suited to forestry and woodland organisations include: the Business Award, the Innovation Award, and the Nature and Climate Action Award.

Anne McCall, RSPB Scotland director, added: “As well as being important for nature, Scotland’s woods and forests can store carbon, produce timber and offer places for recreation, helping our physical and mental wellbeing. Fantastic work is being done to manage existing woodlands to help nature and to create the wildlife-rich woods of the future. This category, sponsored by Confor, celebrates the best examples of that and those involved.”

The award ceremony will take place on 17 November, with the shortlist of finalists being revealed in early September. Applications are open until 14 June, and any work which has taken place in the last three years will be eligible.

For more information on categories and to access the digital application form, please visit www.rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland.

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