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Western Isles couple commended for exposed peninsula growth at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards

Ardnakille is an exposed peninsula on Scalpay.
Ardnakille is an exposed peninsula on Scalpay.

A Western Isles couple who planted 14,000 trees at their croft have been recognised for their “patience and perseverance”.

Mike and Fiona Coulthard planted the trees at Ardnakille.

The peninsula, on Scalpay, should have been near impossible to grow trees on. Made up of rock and peat, it is constantly buffeted by wind, salt and grazing sheep.

But their success has earned them the New Native Woods prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022.

“Growing any trees on this site is an achievement – both ecologically and culturally – and for this the applicants are to be congratulated,” said the judges.

“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.”

This year’s awards, referred to by some as the Tree Oscars, were presented at Royal Highland Show for the first time in person since 2019.

Mr and Mrs Coulthard were among a number of groups and projects that were recognised for maintaining and promoting Scotland’s woodlands.

‘The farm is outstanding’

The Lockett Family were jointly awarded the Lilburn Trophy for Farm Woodlands for Knockbain Farm in Dingwall – with the judges commending its use of trees to provide excellent shelter, “undoubtedly increasing the farm’s capital value.”

They added: “The farm is also outstanding in its connection to the local community in the neighbouring town of Dingwall with the woodlands providing very good footpaths and cycle facilities.”

A large number of schools and nurseries put themselves forward for this year’s awards, proving that younger people are getting more involved in protecting the environment.

Mairi McAllan, minister for environment and land reform, 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.

“The awards celebrate the achievements and hard work of all those who create and care for our forests and woodlands, and instill a love of trees in our young people.”

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