1 Oct 2021

Broadleaved woodland set for Dumfriesshire

A new woodland in Dumfriesshire will help strengthen a farming business, whilst also contributing towards Scotland’s climate change targets and boosting biodiversity.

Scottish Forestry has just agreed £240,000 funding towards the new woodland which is to be grown around four miles from Moffat on the A708.

Over 68,000 trees are to be planted, the majority being native oak, birch and aspen with a smaller proportion of sycamore (11.5%).  The woodland area will cover around 31 hectares in total.

The tree planting aims to diversify the farm at Selcoth and improve its productivity on poorer quality land. As well as providing shelter belts for sheep, the trees will also provide a source of income when they are used for timber in the future.   

Welcoming the new tree planting scheme, Environment Minister Màiri McAllan said:

“Scotland’s forest and woodlands are making a significant contribution towards tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity decline.

“In the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government we are committed to increasing our woodland creation targets to 18,000 hectares of new planting each year by 2024/25.

“I am glad to see more woodland creation schemes coming on stream, all helping with our ambitious targets. This project is a great example of tree planting creating multiple benefits for rural business, biodiversity and for climate change.”

The woodland planting will be carried out by Olly and Shara Routledge, a family run farming business which has a long history in the Moffat Valley stretching back 50 years.  

The planting will complement the landscape on the A708 tourist route between Moffat and Selkirk, displaying diversity of colour and structures of species.

Mr Routledge said: “The decision to increase the tree planting on the farm represents a coordinated approach to making good use of some poorer quality ground to provide alternative income opportunities, while focusing a reduced number of sheep on the more easily accessed and managed land. 

“The planting of mixed conifer and hard wood forestry contributes to our wider family aspiration to take positive steps in relation to climate change, but also, and almost as importantly, enhancing biodiversity in a landscape that has been heavily impacted by sheep. By way of example, when I grew up on the farm there were good numbers of Black Grouse and we hope that our actions will significantly bolster the small number of birds that remain.”

In carrying out the necessary assessments for future planting, local wildlife and environmental considerations have been taken into account and any areas of deep peat avoided.

Last year, the Routledge’s received grant funding to assist in the planting of around 50 hectares of woodland in the area, consisting of broadleaves and mixed conifers.

They are keen to share their tree planting experiences and were guest speakers at the Moffat Eagle Festival last month.

It is expected that ground preparation will begin in the next couple of months with planting expected over the winter.