Wood you believe it – Melrose pupils among the ‘Tree Oscars’ honours

Three pupils from St Mary's school, Melrose, which won the schools award at Scotland's annual 'Tree Oscars', The Finest Woods Award. Also pictured is, left,  Fergus Ewing, rural economy minister, and  Tom Rawson (a teacher and head of outdoor education) and Emma Rawson (head of boarding)
Three pupils from St Mary's school, Melrose, which won the schools award at Scotland's annual 'Tree Oscars', The Finest Woods Award. Also pictured is, left, Fergus Ewing, rural economy minister, and Tom Rawson (a teacher and head of outdoor education) and Emma Rawson (head of boarding)

Two Borders entries have featured in Scotland’s annual ‘Tree Oscars’.

The Finest Woods Awards honours the contributions made by woodland to people, the environment and the economy, with the winners presented with trophies and cash prizes at a ceremony at the Royal Highland Show.

Lifting the farm woodland title was Peter Gascoigne for Gascoigne Farm Ltd, Broughton, while the schools award winner was St Mary’s, Melrose.

Rural economy minister Fergus Ewing, who made the presentations, said: “New figures have shown that Scotland is responsible for almost 80% of new forest and woodland creation in the UK. This is testament to the value and importance of our £1bn forestry and timber industry, and the economic, environmental and social contribution it makes.

“But behind all of this success, there are talented and passionate people whose dedication creates woodland resources for our communities, woodland habitats for our wildlife and woodland resources for our forest industries.

“I am particularly pleased that the schools award is once again so well-contested – it is heartening to know that the future wellbeing of our forests will be in so many good and capable hands.”

The judges were thoroughly impressed by Mr Gascoigne. He has planted 126 hectares on a hill farm, combining “soft wood trees for commercial use and hard woods to be retained for future generations”. He has also built a farm house, steadings and ponds on the 385ha farm since buying it in 2002.

In his entry, Mr Gascoigne said: “Our main farming enterprise is breeding quality lambs, and this can only be achieved, in my opinion, by creating warmth and shelter by planting trees given the altitude of the farm.”

The judges said: “Mr Gascoigne’s efforts are an inspiration to other farmers considering planting woodlands on their farms. The owner is conscious of landscape design, with biodiversity, wildlife and conservation all factored [into] the woodland mix.”

They said he had “demonstrated the direct benefit of the woodland to the agricultural business, with productive conifer woodland starting to yield returns and more productive better quality lambs being produced on the farm”.

z Pictured are three St Mary’s school pupils, Tom Rawson (a teacher and head of outdoor education) and Emma Rawson (head of boarding), with Fergus Ewing, left.