Forestry Commission Scotland is to create a new 'starter-farm' in Caithness - giving a new farmer an opportunity to get their first foothold into the industry.
This new opportunity comes from the purchase of land at Achnamoine, near Halkirk in Sutherland. This is part of Forestry Commission Scotland's 'repositioning programme' which involves selling areas with low potential to allow investment in new land that delivers greater benefits.
Successful entrants to a starter farm are given a 10 year lease to enable them to build up a farming business using land and property on the National Forest Estate.
There are currently seven starter farms across Scotland including units in Fife, Ayrshire, Stirlingshire, Aberdeenshire and Dumfriesshire. This new starter farm at Achnamoine is the first one to be located in the Highlands.
The property would be ideal for a new farmer looking for a start in an integrated livestock and woodland environment.
Tim Cockerill, Forestry Commission Scotland's district manager for North Highland said:
"We're very pleased to be able to offer new farmers a chance to start their own agricultural business in the Highlands.
"For new entrants it can be very difficult to get their feet on the first rung of the farming ladder. Vacant properties are rare and often out of the price range for most.
"Achnamoine could be a great opportunity for someone eager to start farming livestock and integrate this with some woodland too."
The initial proposal is to create a starter farm of a similar size to previous units - around 65 ha of rotational grazing.
A number of shelterbelts will be created, designed to enhance the productive value of the better quality land. The balance of the unit is poor quality rough grazing which will see a mix of woodland creation and open habitat over which some grazing may be considered.
Some additional areas of unplanted land linked to previous Forestry Commission Scotland acquisitions at Dale and Sibster may also be offered with the tenancy.
Achnamoine farmhouse and steading comprises a number of farm buildings and these will be upgraded further.
The Commission aims to carry out improvements to bring the farm into good condition with applications for a new starter farm tenant expected to go out in Autumn 2014 for a Spring 2015 entry.
In Autumn, applications will be posted on Forestry Commission Scotland's website with adverts appearing in the farming and national press.