FORESTRY COMMISSION Scotland is offering free farm woodland assessments to help farms and small estates identify opportunities for new woodland planting to support their farm businesses.

As part of its work to promote integration between farming and forestry in the Central Scotland Green Network area, the assessments, conducted by a forestry consultant, aim to help farmers, landowners and estate managers understand the potential for their business to benefit from forestry.

Participating farmers will receive a tailored report highlighting opportunities for woodland creation on their land holding, with accompanying proposals for woodland type, location and an indicative cashflow, based upon current market rates for forestry operations and current grant rates.

This latest offer from FCS builds on an earlier round of farm woodland assessments undertaken in early 2018 on behalf of 15 farms, which identified 275.8 ha of potential woodland creation, of which these farms are considering planting up to 173 ha.

David Shanks of Brackenhirst Farm, who was part of that first tranche of assessments, said: “The farm woodland assessment project has been very helpful and has showed that woodland creation on the areas looked at will be of benefit to the overall farm business. We are likely to proceed with an FGS application in 2019 or beyond. The process itself was simple, straightforward and made sense and the reports are of good quality.”

Broughton farmer, Peter Gascoigne, has also integrated forestry into his existing farming business. He said: “For many years I ran my farm mainly based on sheep, but we still had many acres of land that were not being used or generating any income. It made sense to use that land to plant woodland and it’s made a big difference to our business.

“Woodland creation has also helped me to secure the farm for my son," he added. "When the time comes for him to take over, not only is there no tax on the timber sale but it is also capital gains and inheritance tax exempt. The added bonus for me is knowing that the planting of the trees is helping the wildlife and environment due to carbon capture and he can still maintain his sheep using his better fields.”

FCS woodland creation officer Virginia Harden Scott said: “We received great feedback from our free woodland assessments earlier this year which is why we are offering another round. We want to connect with those who might not know the benefits of forestry or who would consider it but are just not sure how to go about applying for grants.

"Farmers and landowners come away with a physical report that outlines what the opportunities could be for woodland creation on their land, providing them with all the necessary information to enable them to make an informed choice on whether to proceed with an FGS Woodland Creation application. The reports can also form a valuable source of information for any subsequent grant application.

“Farming with trees can generate many benefits to farms," she said. "Well-designed woodland can provide valuable stock shelter; help reduce diffuse pollution; increase on-farm biodiversity and help address climate change. By planting new woodland, you are also growing a future timber resource, potentially producing a new long term, tax free, income stream, as well as supplies of low cost and carbon lean woodfuel.”

The Forestry Grant Scheme, which is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, offers farmers attractive funding opportunities to plant new or manage existing woodlands. Landowners in Scotland can receive grants of up to £6210 per ha towards the costs of new woodland planting, with monies for fencing and tree protection available in addition to this. Landowners located with the CSGN area may also be eligible for a special uplift contribution of up to £2500 per ha, dependent upon locations. Land planted under the FGS remains eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme.

FCS stressed that the number of free assessments available is limited, so people are encouraged to get in touch early to register their interest. To find out more, contact Ms Harden Scott before November 21 at or on 0300 067 6294.


Find out about Forestry at AgriScot

Forestry Commission Scotland will be at AgriScot on Wednesday November 21 providing help and information to farmers interested in introducing forestry into their existing business.

Representatives from FCS will host a seminar session and be on hand to discuss the benefits farming businesses can expect from woodland creation, including diversification, increased productivity and income and some long-term future proofing. The session will be an open forum for farmers and landowners to ask questions they may not have had the opportunity to ask before.