Scottish family farm receives £250k to plant 68,000 trees

Scottish Forestry has agreed to issue funding to help the family farm commence the woodland project
Scottish Forestry has agreed to issue funding to help the family farm commence the woodland project

A Dumfriesshire family farming business has accepted nearly £250,000 in government funding to help them plant over 68,000 trees on 31 hectares of land.

The vast tree planting project aims to diversify the farm, run by Olly and Shara Routledge, and improve its productivity on poorer quality land.

As well as providing shelter belts for sheep, the trees will also provide a source of income when they are used for timber in the future.

The new woodland will be grown around four miles from Moffat on the A708, the majority being native oak, birch and aspen, with a smaller proportion of sycamore.

The woodland planting will be carried out by the Routledge's, a family run farming business which has a long history in the Moffat Valley stretching back 50 years.

The planting will complement the landscape on the A708 tourist route between Moffat and Selkirk, displaying diversity of colour and structures of species.

Mr Routledge said: “The decision to increase the tree planting on the farm represents a coordinated approach to making good use of some poorer quality ground to provide alternative income opportunities, while focusing a reduced number of sheep on the more easily accessed and managed land.

“The planting of mixed conifer and hard wood forestry contributes to our wider family aspiration to take positive steps in relation to climate change, but also enhancing biodiversity in a landscape that has been heavily impacted by sheep.

"By way of example, when I grew up on the farm there were good numbers of Black Grouse and we hope that our actions will significantly bolster the small number of birds that remain.”

Scottish Forestry has agreed to issue £240,000 worth of funding to help the Routledge's commence the project.

The Scottish government has committed to increasing woodland creation targets to 18,000 hectares of new planting each year by 2024/25.

Environment Minister Màiri McAllan said: “Scotland’s forest and woodlands are making a significant contribution towards tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity decline.

"This project is a great example of tree planting creating multiple benefits for rural business, biodiversity and for climate change.”

Last year, the Routledge’s received grant funding to assist in the planting of around 50 hectares of woodland in the area, consisting of broadleaves and mixed conifers.