FARMERS ARE encouraged to explore woodland creation opportunities at the upcoming Biggar show on Saturday, July 20.

Scottish Forestry will be on site to discuss opportunities available to farmers through the Forestry Grant Scheme which will help cover costs of woodland creation on their land.

Woodland Creation Officer for Scottish Forestry, Central Scotland Conservancy, Virginian Harden Scott, said: “We welcome all farmers to stop by and chat to us at the show to find out what they could be eligible for. We can also provide further information on where to go for advice on planning, layout, suitable species choices and grant aid.

“Land managers are increasingly looking for ways to maximise productivity of their land and diversify their incomes,” she continued. “Integrating forestry with farming offers valuable opportunities to do just that.”

Farmers and landowners could receive grants of up to £6,210 per hectare towards the costs of new woodland planting, with monies for fencing and tree protection available in addition to this.

Biggar farmer Peter Gascoigne has successfully combined forestry with his sheep enterprise, creating an additional tax-free asset and helping secure the farm for future generations.

“We have reduced livestock numbers by half, at the same time maintaining overall agricultural productivity, replacing the hill sheep with a higher quality lowland breed, and planting lower quality hill ground with commercial forestry, securing the farm for the future,” said Mr Gascoigne.

He went on to explain that newly planted shelters belts provided animal husbandry benefits which he claimed outweigh any conversion of agricultural land to trees.