Free woodland assessments available for Scottish farmers

Nearly 80 free assessments have already been carried out in the central belt of Scotland
Nearly 80 free assessments have already been carried out in the central belt of Scotland

Farmers in central Scotland who are thinking of planting trees are being offered free woodland assessments by Scottish Forestry.

As part of the national drive to promote the benefits of tree planting, a limited number of free farm woodland assessments are now available.

Each assessment will help the farmer or land manager in the central belt region identify how woodland planting can help boost the viability of their business.

The advice includes detailing which grants are on offer, predicted expenditure and cash flow, as well as advice on future management of the trees.

Nearly 80 free assessments have been carried out in the central belt of Scotland, resulting in over 550 hectares of new woodland.

Virginia Harden Scott, woodland creation officer at Scottish Forestry, said planting on-farms trees helped boost productivity and reduce soil erosion.

"The trees can also provide a future timber resource – potentially producing a new long-term, tax free income stream,” she added.

Matthew Imrie, of Hillhead Farm, is one central belt farmer who has benefited from a previous farm woodland assessment.

The area that is now being planted with trees is poor land that the farm has struggled to graze and make productive for about 20 years.

Wind turbines and solar panels were previously considered but neither were suitable for the site.

“We hadn’t considered forestry as we weren’t aware of its benefits," Mr Imrie explained.

"The farm woodland assessment provided us with all the information we required to make an informed decision on whether to invest in forestry.

“The report included an indicative budget and summary of the works required – allowing us to determine whether the returns were worth the input.

"With the grants available, it was clear that this was a sound investment for now and for the future.”

Expressions of interest in a farm woodland assessment should be made by Friday 28 May.