New advice for Scottish tenant farmers to plant trees

Planting woodland can bring benefits such as shelter for livestock and a future income from timber
Planting woodland can bring benefits such as shelter for livestock and a future income from timber

Scottish Forestry is working with tenant farmers across Scotland to demonstrate how tree planting can benefit their businesses.

The body, along with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, have published a new woodland creation case study based around a tenanted farm.

The initiative aims to encourage more tenancy based businesses in Scotland to consider growing trees.

Experts say farm woodlands can bring benefits including shelter for livestock, improved habitats for wildlife and a new future income from timber.

According to the Scottish government, around 80% of recent forestry grant applications are already from smaller scale woodland creation projects.

Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan, welcomed the joint working: “We need to build on this and ensure all farmers can grow trees to boost their businesses.

“I hope this new case study encourages more tenant farmers to look seriously at tree planting and take advantage of the help available to make this happen."

The case study is centred around Ruthven Farm in the Highlands, a Crown Estate Scotland tenanted farm of 800 acres in size.

Ruthven has seen the benefits of planting trees on the farm - shelter and habitat for their flock, and new fencing paid for.

These benefits have led to better management of stock and improved biosecurity barriers with neighbouring farms.

The mixed woodland was planted in wetter, less productive areas such as corners of fields that have fluke habitats. These areas are now less wet due to the trees.

The woodland has also seen survival rates in the flock improving greatly as the trees mature.

Christopher Nicholson, Chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association said: “This case study provides examples of the types of woodland creation possible on a tenanted holding.

"The benefits to the farm of integrating appropriate tree planting with agriculture are clearly analysed in the study, including income arising from the Woodland Carbon Code.

“The STFA would like to see these types of tree planting options available to all tenants should they wish to integrate trees on their holdings."

He added: "Despite existing restrictions around agricultural leases which may need to be addressed, it is vital that farm tenants can contribute to biodiversity and mitigation of climate change."

Scottish Forestry has developed a number of initiatives to make it easier for smaller landowners, farmers, crofters and woodland owners to grow trees.

Simplified woodland creation guidance has been produced, a Small Woodlands Loan Scheme created, and a network of demo farm woodlands sites has been established.