28 Dec 2021

Helping tenant farmers grow trees for their business

Scottish Forestry is working with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association to demonstrate how tree planting can benefit all farm businesses.

As part of this work, they have published a new woodland creation case study, based around a tenanted farm.

The study aims to encourage more tenancy based businesses to consider growing trees.

Environment Minister Màiri McAllan welcomed the joint working: 

“Around 80 per cent of recent forestry grant applications are already from smaller scale woodland creation projects.

“We need to build on this and ensure all farmers, including tenant farmers, can grow trees to boost their businesses.

“I hope this new case study encourages more tenant farmers to look seriously at tree planting and take advantage of the help available to make this happen.

”Farm woodlands can bring many benefits including shelter for livestock, improved habitats for wildlife, providing a future income from timber and reducing the business’s carbon footprint.”

The case study is centred around Ruthven Farm in the Highlands. This is a Crown Estate Scotland tenanted farm of 800 acres in size.

Ruthven has already seen the benefits of planting trees on the farm - shelter and habitat for their flock, and new fencing paid for. These benefits have led to better management of stock and improved biosecurity barriers with neighbouring farms.

The mixed woodland was planted in wetter, less productive areas such as corners of fields that have fluke habitats. These areas are now less wet due to the trees. The woodland has also seen survival rates in the flock improving greatly as the trees mature.

Christopher Nicholson, Chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association said:

“This case study on Ruthven Farm provides valuable examples of the types of woodland creation possible on a tenanted holding, from small scale farm woodlands to large scale commercial conifers. The benefits to the farm of integrating appropriate tree planting with agriculture are clearly analysed in the study, including income arising from the Woodland Carbon Code.

“The STFA would like to see these types of tree planting options available to all tenants should they wish to integrate trees on their holdings. Despite existing restrictions around agricultural leases which may need to be addressed, it is vital that farm tenants can contribute to biodiversity and mitigation of climate change.

“As the landlord of Ruthven Farm, Crown Estate Scotland has set a good example by permitting tenants to plant trees and we would like to see other landlords adopt a similar approach with tenants seeking to diversify into trees.”

Scottish Forestry has developed a number of initiatives to make it easier for smaller landowners, farmers, crofters and woodland owners to grow trees.

Simplified woodland creation guidance has been produced, a Small Woodlands Loan Scheme created, and a network of demo farm woodlands sites has been established through the Integrating Trees Network.