‘Pigs and trees’ farmer wins Scottish Woodlands award
A young farmer who works with pigs and trees has been named the 2023 winner of the Scottish Woodlands Ltd Trophy for Young People specialising in farm forestry.
David Carruth won the prize - part of the annual Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards - for his work at Brodocle in Dalry, North Ayrshire for The Future Forest Company Ltd.
The ‘Tree Oscars’ were presented today/on Friday at a ceremony at the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston, with judges praising Mr Carruth the “innovation being shown in establishing this enterprise”.
Mr Carruth, who works with a herd of 163 Mangalitza pigs, said: “The pigs manage the forest by grazing down the dominant species on the forest floor, allowing other species of plants and young trees to thrive."
“To maximise their effectiveness in this role I use a system of rotational mob grazing, keeping the pigs in large groups and grazing them through 20 separate 25-acre forest paddocks.”
He added: “The local ecology responds well to the pigs as they create opportunities for birds, invertebrates and small mammals. We monitor biodiversity onsite through conducting surveys and recording our observations."
“For the pigs, the constant access to fresh foliage means that I only supply them with 3% of their total diet through summer months. They are healthier and happier because they have large social circles and can constantly engage with the woodland.”
David Robertson, Investment and Business Development Director at Scottish Woodlands Ltd, said: “This excellent and creative example of integrating trees into a farm enterprise is exactly why Scottish Woodlands Ltd established this award. Many congratulations to David and we wish him all the best in his future pig-tree endeavours.”
A 158-hectare Scottish Woodlands Ltd site, at Clow and Condie, near Dunning, Perthshire, was commended in the Whole Estate/Forest category of the Quality Timber section of the Awards. Mike Page, Forest Manager with Scottish Woodlands Ltd, attended the awards to collect the prize on behalf of forest owner EB8 Ltd.
The focus of Clow and Condie is primarily economic, via the production of quality timber, although the forest is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders, and also contains a large area managed for biodiversity. Three large ponds have been created on the site and the surrounding mixture of open ground, native broadleaves and scrub provides a haven for wildlife. The site has panoramic views over the Ochils and the Lomond Hills.
Since phased felling of trees began approximately 15 years ago, the forest has been restructured to make the site more mixed, by varying the age and variety of tree species on the site.
Mr Page said: “I’m very pleased that this excellent site has received recognition. The management over the last two decades has transformed a single-aged plantation under two ownerships into a single ownership, multi-aged plantation. Access on the site has been improved for both forestry operations and recreational users.”
Mairi Gougeon MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform & Islands, who presented the Awards, said: “The Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate our trees and woodlands, and especially, all the inspiring people who care for them. I’d like to congratulate the award winners and everyone who took part. This year we’ve had some fantastic entries which shows Scotland really does have a vibrant forestry and woodland sector."
“I’m particularly pleased to see so many children and young people involved in award entries. We need to grow and nurture our future foresters from an early age and attract more young people into the world of forestry. This is an important issue that needs collective public and private action and I’m looking forward to discussing this, and finding solutions, at the forthcoming Scottish Forestry Summit later in the year.”
For a full list of winners, go to the Scotland’s Finest Woods website: https://www.sfwa.co.uk/