A NEW booklet highlighting the role of trees in sheep farming has been produced by the National Sheep Association in tandem with the Woodland Trust.

The guide provides practical tips for farmers and land managers, and outlines the key policy needs to support tree planting in the future.

Launched at NSA's recent Sheep Event in Malvern, the collaborative booklet comes at a key time, as links between farming and the environment are being increasingly scrutinised and discussions are ongoing about paying farmers for provision of public goods post-Brexit.

With that policy shift in mind, the booklet offers advice and guidance on the integration of trees onto sheep farms and its associated benefits for the health and welfare of the sheep flock, the surrounding ecosystem and the wider environment.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “In the right situation and location, trees can be a win-win-win for farmers, the environment and society. Farmers can site trees to advantage their flocks while providing a whole range of wider benefits.

"These so-called public goods are the kind of things that sheep farmers provide for the environment and society on a daily basis and should be paid for because the marketplace does not recognise them. We’re taking about air and soil quality, wildlife and ecosystem enhancement, landscape management and sustenance of rural communities.”

Woodland Trust senior farming advisor Helen Chesshire said: “Sheep farming throughout the UK has a critical role in the delivery of a new sustainable land management policy that delivers for our landscapes, countryside and producers.

"Agroforestry is an attractive proposition for many farmers because of the huge benefits trees have on flock health and performance. Trees can also improve soil quality and, depending on the type of trees planted, they can also provide an additional source of income. The benefits an incredibly wide ranging or sheep and the environment.”

The booklet includes detailed information on the implementation of trees onto farmland and recent research by the Woodland Trust, supported by Bangor University. Case studies are also included from farmers from all nations of the UK, giving information on how increasing the number of trees and hedgerows to their farms can benefit both the business and the environment.

Participating farmers include Jimmy and Graeme Sinclair, of Midlothian, who reduced flooding through tree-planting; Thomas Gibson, of Ballymena, Northern Ireland, who planted trees to provide shelter at lambing time; and Paul and Nic Renison, of Cumbria, who used trees to provide mob grazing and wildlife shelter.