‘Trees v tenants’ row resurfaces over planting targets

'Many landlords view forestry as an attractive alternative to tenant farming,' said STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson. Picture: Pamela Grigg
'Many landlords view forestry as an attractive alternative to tenant farming,' said STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson. Picture: Pamela Grigg
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Tenant farmers have claimed that government targets and incentives to increase tree planting, together with uncertainty over future agricultural policy, were leading to a loss of farming tenancies.

Warning that the “trees versus tenants” debate was set to re-ignite, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) said that in recent years upland farms where tenancies had come to an end were often planted to forestry – but added that the situation was now becoming more serious.

Many landlords view forestry as an attractive alternative to tenant farming

Christopher Nicholson

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“We are now seeing some of the large estates bringing limited partnership and limited duration tenancies to an end to make way for trees,” claimed STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson.

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“Many landlords view forestry as an attractive alternative to tenant farming and the losers in this drive towards tree planting are the tenants and their families whose tenancies are being cut short leaving them to find new homes and occupations.”

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Nicholson also claimed that there was evidence of land agents ignoring the industry code of practice, which calls for a mutually beneficial way forward, including professional mediation where agreement proved difficult to find.

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However the landowners’ organisation, Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), said claims of a “trees versus tenants” debate were “misleading and too simplistic”.

“Increasingly, there are efforts to see farming and forestry as existing side-by-side. Also, land that can generate sustainable income through agriculture will continue to be farmed,” said SLE chairman David Johnstone, who added that it was “entirely justifiable” for landowners to identify the best possible use of land.

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