Scottish rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead has stepped in to the controversy over the plan to plant trees on Corniehaugh farm in the Deveron valley in Aberdeenshire.
The minister has asked the Forestry Commission to adhere to proposals put forward by the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group calling for an integrated approach to tree planting with no blanket forestry.
“I recognise the farming sector’s desire to protect land for food production and we remain fully supportive of the needs of the farming sector and other land uses,” he said.
Halso confirmed he had accepted all 24 proposals put forward by the WEAG group whose remit when it was set up last year was to provide a way forward towards a more integrated approach to tree planting in Scotland; one that brought farming and forestry interests closer together.
“The Scottish Government is committed to achieving a balance between achieving our woodland creation targets and the needs of agriculture,” he added.
And with the revelation that only 13 of the 44 farms bought by the Forestry Commission since 2006 had so far been planted, Lochhead added he wanted to see a case-by-case survey of these farms undertaken by a cross industry panel to decide on the best land use for the land.
“It may well be that some of these farms may be best returned to agriculture and others may benefit from an integrated land use. Certainly such a large land bank must present some new farming opportunities.
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