A limited number of free Farm Woodland Assessments have been made available with the aim of helping farmers identify how new woodland planting could help boost the viability of their businesses.
The advice includes information on what grants are available, predicted expenditure and cash flow, as well as guidance on the future management of the trees:
“By planting trees on the farm you can provide shelter belts for livestock - increasing related productivity, reducing soil erosion and boosting the overall biodiversity on the farm. The trees can also provide a future timber resource – potentially producing a new long-term, tax free income stream,” said Virginia Harden Scott, Woodland Creation Officer with Scottish Forestry
She said that 80 free assessments had already been carried out in the central belt of Scotland and this had resulted in over 550 hectares of new woodland.
Farmer Matthew Imrie, of Hillhead Farm, said a previous scheme had helped identify an area of the farm as suitable for woodland to help future-proof the business:
“The area that is now being planted with trees is poor land that we have struggled to graze and make productive for about 20 years. Wind turbines and solar panels were previously considered but neither were suitable for this site.”
He said the assessment had highlighted the potential of woodland planting provided the information required to invest in forestry.