Central Scotland landowners interested in exploring opportunities for woodland creation can find out more at an event in Midlothian tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct 8).

Delivered by Soil Association Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Forestry, at the Grey Horse Inn in Balerno, the ‘Making Woodland Work for You’ event will highlight the benefits of integrating forestry within existing rural businesses

It will give anyone involved in land management the opportunity to hear, first-hand, the benefits of woodland for livestock productivity, as a renewable fuel source and timber crop, and to learn more about the attractive funding opportunities available for woodland creation.

Under the Scottish Rural Development Programme’s Forestry Grant Scheme, grants are available for up to £6210 per hectare towards the costs of new woodland planting. Landowners located within Central Scotland may also be eligible for a special uplift contribution of up to £2500 per hectare, dependent upon location. Additional money may also be available for fencing and protection costs.

Woodland Creation Officer for Scottish Forestry, Virginia Harden Scott, said: “Significant opportunities exist for landowners to maximise their business productivity and sustainability by adding value to underproductive/marginal land through tree planting. Many landowners we’ve been working with are already enjoying the benefits of woodland creation, including the natural provision of shelter for their livestock and a means to produce a sustainable fuel.

“With falling incomes in traditional agriculture 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 excellent way for landowners to come and talk to us and find out more about the benefits of woodland creation, and particularly the Forestry Grant Scheme and the application process.”

The event includes a site visit to nearby Easter Bavelaw Farm, where owners Graham and Becci Barr have recently planted 90,000 trees and are considering management options for existing woodlands.

Speaking about the benefits of woodland creation for their business, Mr Barr said: “Our forestry project was centred on a block of unproductive hill ground that had little value for livestock farming. The aim was to secure both short and long term diversified income for the farm. There were also many other benefits, including restricting livestock access to difficult areas; providing shelter; creating and improving riparian wildlife habitats and, of course, capturing and storing carbon.”

The ‘Making Woodland Work for You’ takes place tomorrow, Tuesday 8 October, at The Grey Horse Inn, Balerno, Midlothian from 12.30 to 4.30pm. It is a free event, but booking is essential and can be done online.