New approaches are needed to support Scottish tenant farmers to plant trees and hit their green potential, the Tenant Farming Commissioner has said.
A new briefing paper issued by Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has highlighted steps in addressing issues that currently discourage tenant farmers from becoming involved in tree planting.
With the government’s Agricultural Bill around the corner, the paper reflects discussions with landlords and tenants, working with the Scottish government, to remove barriers to tree planting.
Aside from the traditional benefits of tree planting on farms, such as provision of shelter, biodiversity and timber, the paper says there is the opportunity for farmers to acquire carbon credits which can be sold or used to offset carbon emissions from farms.
However, tenant farmers are at a particular disadvantage due to uncertainty over the implications of current legislation governing compensation arrangements at the end of the tenancy.
Responding to his paper's launch, Mr McIntosh said that woodland expansion and tree planting initiatives needed to be made more accessible and attractive to tenant farmers.
He added: "They need to be able to access current and future support measures and be subject to compensation arrangements which are fair to both landlord and tenant.”
His report also highlights the need for better guidance on the creation of tree planting agreements between landlords and tenants.
It also calls for greater clarity on the status and treatment within the legislation of agroforestry - mixing trees and agricultural production on the same piece of land.
Mr McIntosh continued: “The current circumstances mean that tenant farmers are left with no real tree planting incentives, something that, if changed, could have significant benefits in the push for net zero.
"With all parties engaged in shaping proposed changes, I am confident these issues can be addressed.
"In the meantime though, it is clear that both landlords and tenants will need to work together to enable tree planting on tenanted holdings.”