THE drive to encourage more farmers to take up forestry was a key element of this year’s Royal Highland Show, as the show marked its 200th year.

One of the largest agricultural events in the UK, the RHS hadn’t been held in its full form for three years, but returned for four days in June, welcoming more than 190,000 people through the gates at Ingliston, near Edinburgh. 

There were also over 200,000 viewers of live online content on RHS TV, making the event’s global reach greater than ever. 

While livestock farming took centre stage, trees and timber were well represented by a good number of events and exhibitors.

The Forestry Arena shone the spotlight on a number of different aspects of forestry through demonstrations of small-scale equipment, chainsaw carving and forwarders. 

There was also a lumberjack relay and the return of the ever-popular pole-climbing competition, sponsored by Scottish Woodlands, won this year by Dan Whelan, who set a new personal best and show record on the 80 ft pole climb of 8.84 seconds.

Forestry Journal: With the sun shining, conditions were excellent for the 80-ft pole-climbing competition.With the sun shining, conditions were excellent for the 80-ft pole-climbing competition.

On its second day, the show hosted the launch of a new joint report from Woodland Trust Scotland and Soil Association Scotland making the case for the wide-scale integration of trees on farms and crofts across Scotland to help tackle biodiversity loss and climate change.

Titled ‘Integrating Trees on Farms and Crofts in Scotland’, the report was launched at an event giving practical advice on the benefits of introducing more trees and offering information on how to go about it.

Forestry Journal: Logosol’s B1001 band sawmill was among a range of equipment demonstrated in the Forestry Arena.Logosol’s B1001 band sawmill was among a range of equipment demonstrated in the Forestry Arena.

David McKay, Soil Association head of policy for Scotland, said: “Integrating trees on farms and crofts offers a viable and cost-effective way to enhance tree planting without reducing agricultural production and therefore offshoring the impacts of the food system.

“New tree planting and farm woodland can provide a range of environmental benefits and improve the performance and resilience of food production in the face of the twin climate and nature emergencies. Agroforestry – integrating trees on farms – can also open up potential new markets for farmers in timber products, fruit and nuts.

Forestry Journal: Big machinery brought the crowds to the John Deere stand.Big machinery brought the crowds to the John Deere stand.

“We know that there are barriers, not least in terms of the mindset change that is required, but we also know through workshops organised by the Soil Association that there is a significant level of interest in this from farmers and crofters in all parts of Scotland.”

The range of speakers at the event included Mairi McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, who had a busy time at the show filling in for agricultural minister Mairi Gougeon, who was confined to her house with COVID.

Ms McAllan was also given the honour of presenting this year’s Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards. 

@forestryjournal Heading along to the #royalhighlandshow today? Here's a sneak peak of all the #forestry sights to see. #trees #forestryequipment #forestry #forest #treesurgeon #arb #royalhighlandshow2022 #rhs2022 #ponsse #johndeere ♬ original sound - Forestry Journal

Also known as the ‘Tree Oscars’, the prizes reward excellence in all areas of forestry and woodlands. Categories include New Native Woods Award, Quality Timber Award, and Community Woodlands Award.

Among the winners were Mike and Fiona Coulthard, a couple who planted 14,000 trees on a rocky peninsula in the Western Isles, and Grandtully Primary, Perthshire, a school which moved 80 per cent of learning outdoors during the pandemic.

You can view more pictures from the show on our social media channels. Head to our TikTok and YouTube to see exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names in forestry. We'll be posting these throughout July.