SIGNIFICANT OPPORTUNITIES exist for landowners to maximise their business productivity and sustainability by adding value to underproductive/marginal land through tree planting.

New woodlands have the potential to create an additional long-term income stream for your business, an important source of low carbon, low cost woodfuel, at the same time as realising tax, livestock, crop productivity and environmental benefits.

Peter Gascoigne of Gascoigne Farms, Biggar, is just one of a growing number of landowners/managers benefitting from the integration of forestry into their existing agricultural business, having transformed his farm business using trees.

Peter has successfully maximised his business productivity, creating shelter belts for improved livestock performance, a tax free asset for the future and has reduced his business carbon footprint, whilst importantly securing his farm for future generations.

In doing all this, he was awarded funding through the Scottish Rural Development Programme’s Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS), receiving £338,321 for 81.23 hectares of woodland planting, including a maintenance grant spread over five years.

Peter said: “We have reduced livestock numbers by half, yet at the same time maintained overall agricultural productivity, replacing the hill sheep with a higher quality lowland breed and planting lower quality hill ground with commercial forestry. Better quality in-by land is retained for grazing and the newly planted shelters belts are providing animal husbandry benefits.”

Peter maintains that: “Benefits towards animal husbandry as a result of woodland shelter belts outweigh any conversion of agricultural land to trees – it’s about looking at the profitability of the business overall.”

The FGS offers farmers attractive funding opportunities to plant new woodlands and/or manage existing ones. Between October 2015 and April 1, 2019, over £130m of funding has been approved for 1241 woodland creation cases in Scotland, covering 28,364 ha of new planting.

Farmers and landowners could receive grants of up to £6210 per hectare towards the costs of new woodland planting, with additional monies for fencing and tree protection available. Landowners located within the Central Scotland Green Network Area may also be eligible for a special uplift contribution of up to £2500 per hectare, location dependent – and other regional uplifts are available elsewhere in Scotland.

You can apply for fencing and planting works to be completed in separate financial years, helping to assist with cash-flow and FGS applications can be made all year round. Under current rules, land planted under the FGS remains eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme.

If you are located within the CSGN area and would like to discuss potential opportunities for woodland creation and the FGS, contact Virginia Harden Scott at or on 0131 370 5334.

For those located outwith the CSGN area, contact your nearest local Scottish Forestry Conservancy Office via

For full details of the Forestry Grant Scheme, go to:

To see the full story of how forestry has been successfully integrated into Gascoigne Farms watch the Woodland Creation Video Case Study via