THE winners of the Confor Awards 2023 received accolades at an industry dinner in Edinburgh this week.

Future forestry leaders, great communicators and inspiring innovators were honoured alongside a dedicated servant of the industry at Confor’s largest-ever awards dinner.

There were also new awards for Professional Forester of the Year and a Net Zero prize to mark the industry's vital contribution to addressing the damaging impacts of climate change.

READ MORE: Forestry jobs: Harvesting operators sought by Forestry England

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said the awards showed the industry was in great shape - and "ready, willing and able to tackle the big economic and environmental challenges ahead".

Graham Taylor of Pryor & Rickett Silviculture won the top award for Dedicated Service to Forestry, while Tom Barnes of Vastern Timber was the winner of the Changing Attitudes Award for his work in sharing positive and accessible videos about forestry to a wider audience.

Neil White of Scottish Woodlands won the Tom A Bruce-Jones Memorial Award for Future Leader in the Forest Industry, with BH Wildlife Consultancy and Forestry and Land Scotland scooping the Innovation and Research prize.

The first Net Zero Award went to Neil Stoddart of Creel Maritime, while Jonathan Callis of Network Rail picked up the inaugural Professional Forester of the Year Award, sponsored by the Institute of Chartered Foresters.

Màiri McAllan, Scotland’s Environment Minister, said she was proud to have responsibility for forestry, which she described as “a thriving and successful industry looking to the future".

Confor and its members were “integral” to delivering an enormous range of economic, environmental and social benefits, she said, adding: “But we must challenge ourselves to be adaptive and better.”

She urged members to reply to the Forestry Grant Scheme consultation, saying: “We seek your views and collective wisdom. How do we secure more carbon sequestration, biodiversity recovery, improved economic activity - and foster good relationships with communities, and ensure a sustainable supply of timber to the wood-using industry?”

Forestry Journal: Mairi McAllan Mairi McAllan (Image: Confor)

She added: “Forestry is so central to what we need to do, and Government support and targets will continue to drive that. But change can be unsettling for communities and I will support in every way I can the many benefits forestry can deliver.”

Full list of winners 

Future Leader
Neil White, Scottish Woodlands 

Changing Attitudes 
Tom Barnes, Vastern Timber

ICF Professional Forester of the Year
Jonathan Callis, Network Rail

Net Zero 
Neil Stoddart, Creel Maritime 

Innovation & Research
BH Wildlife Consultancy / Forestry & Land Scotland