FARMERS and landowners will have an opportunity to find out more about integrating forestry within their existing business at two half-day farm-based walk and talk events this October and November, organised by the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland.

The first event, hosted at Ardoch and Threepland Farms, Eaglesham, on October 5, offers landowners – and those advising landowners – the chance to see existing woodland creation projects on-site and hear, first hand, the benefits of integrating forestry with farming to help diversify income and maximise productivity of their land.

Under the Forestry Grant Scheme, farmers across the CSGN area can receive grants of up to £8710 per hectare towards the cost of new woodland planting, which includes a special CSGN additional contribution of up to £2500 per hectare, with monies for fencing and tree protection available in addition to this.

The owner of Ardoch and Threepland, Iain MacDonald, received grants from the FGS and is already seeing the benefits of integrating farming with forestry. He said: “The woodlands originally helped keep the cows out of difficult terrain during calving and now prevent sheep from hiding in inaccessible parts of fields during gathering, which has reduced the resources required and has increased the value of previously unproductive ground.

“Without question, the planting of woodland has been a big success and has benefited the overall running of our sheep enterprise.”

While grant-assisted tree planting can provide on farm timber, improved shelter for livestock and a longer term income from underutilised ground, land planted under the FGS remains eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme and, in most circumstances, the income from forestry is tax free.

Between October 2015 and August this year, 168 woodland creation projects worth £14.1m have been approved within the CSGN area, which covers Ayrshire, the Central Belt, East Lothian, West Fife and parts of Stirling.

CSGNT woodland creation development officer Virginia Harden Scott said: “With traditional agriculture facing challenging times and uncertainty over future subsidies, landowners are increasingly looking for ways to maximise productivity of their land and diversify incomes. Integrating forestry with farming offers valuable opportunities to do just this.

“These events are an opportunity for landowners to come and talk to us and find out more about the Forestry Grant Scheme, the application process and what the benefits are of integrating forestry into rural businesses.”

For more information on the upcoming events, contact Virginia Harden Scott at