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Aird-na-Cille re-wilding project wins ‘Native New Woods’ prize at Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022.

The unique nature conservation initiative to re-wild land on the Aird na Cille Peninsula in the Western Isles has been named among the winners at Scotland’s 2022 ‘Tree Oscars’. The re-wilding project, which commenced in 2012, aims to breathe new life into a virtually tree-free landscape; encourage biodiversity by responsible hands-on custodianship; re-establish a part of the island’s ancient natural heritage; and create a long-term legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Fiona and Mike Coulthard have planted 14,000 trees on the rocky peninsula so far, including the 3,000 alder saplings planted in February 2022 with the impetus provided by Tivoli funding. The ‘New Native Woods’ award recognises their “patience and perseverance” in planting trees on the exposed croft. As well as extreme weather conditions, the couple had to protect saplings – grown from seed in fish boxes – from grazing sheep.

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.”

The Awards were presented at the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston on Saturday 25th June 2022 for the first time since 2019, following a Covid-cancellation in 2020 and online ceremony in 2021.

Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards is sponsored by Woodland Trust Scotland and is a competition to reward new native woodland natural regeneration or planting where the exemplary use of silvicultural techniques, planning, practice and management delivers high quality native woods. Tivoli pledged to support the unique nature conservation initiative in 2021, including contribution to the sourcing and purchase of local provenance broad-leaved deciduous trees; planting of all trees in a dedicated wild site, ongoing enrichment of mineral soils; and fencing and drainage ditching where required.

Mike and Fiona Coulthard said:

“We’re delighted to have won this prestigious award – the recognition means a lot to us both. And we would like to thank everyone who has supported us.”

Nicola Keach, Chief Executive Officer, Tivoli Group Ltd says:

“We are thrilled that the re-wilding project developed by Mike and Fiona has been recognised for its achievements so far. It’s a fantastic accolade, and Tivoli is very proud to assist them with the creation of new functioning ecosystems where biodiversity can thrive for decades to come.”

For more information on Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards 2022 visit

Fiona and Mike Coulthard – © Julie Broadfoot
Alder saplings with magnificent root systems
New tree planting area

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