By Andrew Arbuckle
Farming and forestry have traditionally been at odds over the use of land but moves are being made to bridge the gap by increased forestry grants for landowners facing an otherwise uncertain rural future.
Specialists from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) have urged farmers and land managers in the north of Scotland to think hard about how woodlands could fit into their future plans and what recent changes in the Scottish Government grants available could mean for them.
Douglas Priest, a forestry specialist with SAC Consulting, which is part of SRUC, said that, within the new “Native Woodland Target Area” for Highland Scotland there were higher payments available for establishing native Scots pine, upland birch and broadleaves.
“In essence the forestry grant scheme payments for these have been increased by £400 per hectare, with additional help for deer fencing and bracken control,” he said.
“There are a multitude of reasons why so many areas of the Highlands would benefit from woodland cover and this is a great time to think seriously about it. We can help with technical forestry advice and [with] the application process.”
Compared with many places in the rest of Europe, Scotland, at 17 per cent, has very low forest cover but this is expected to rise with the governments’ target of planting 15,000 hectares a year by 2025.