The 180 delegates who turned up or tuned in to the event heard president Martin Kennedy liken the wholesale planting of forestry in many agricultural areas to the Highland Clearances: “What is the point in generations of bloody hard work if the land is being pulled from under farmers’ feet?” asked Kennedy.
Stating it appeared that there was never a day went by without another large tract of land being sold to non-farming purchasers for forestry carbon credits to offset what he termed “their own failings to better their climate change credentials” he added: “This must top and it must stop now.”
Although he could see massive opportunities in the carbon markets for annual management payments for farmers and crofters to benefit through management actions designed to enhance carbon capture, he recognised opportunities for trees to act as wildlife corridors or carbon sinks to help the environment and help with livestock shelter and biosecurity on farms.
“However, that is completely different from wholescale farm plantings that take out not only good agricultural land but also the people who are the life and sole of the community. The Scottish government must act on this now,” he said.
Rural affairs cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon said she planned to organise a cross-sector discussion to address the problem.