WITH ITS reliance on extensive grazing, crofting is already 'ahead of the game' on producing food with a low carbon footprint, sector leaders have asserted.

Welcoming the Scottish Government's announcement of funding to support the agriculture industry's contribution to meeting Scotland’s climate change ambitions, the Scottish Crofting Federation said that its members were leading the way.

“Funding for a new Agricultural Transformation Programme of, initially, £40 million to support changes that will benefit our environment is very welcome and not before time,” said SCF chair, Yvonne White. “Crofting takes place on some of Scotland’s most ecologically fragile areas and primary carbon sinks – the peatlands. We would like to see crofters being supported to manage these areas.

“Crofting is well ahead on environmentally sustainable practices with its mainly extensive grazing system. Most of Scotland’s High Nature Value areas are under crofting tenure so we must be doing something right," noted Ms White.

"The reinstatement of an easily accessible crofting forestry grant scheme, including low-density woodland cover for grazing, would see tree-planting on croft land burgeon. Peatlands, which crofters also manage, are even more relevant to carbon sequestration and therefore climate change. Studies have shown that careful mixed grazing is very beneficial to both carbon storage and increasing biodiversity. Payment towards the management of this important resource would reap huge rewards,” she suggested.

“Crofting has always worked with nature to produce high quality food and manage the environment in a sustainable manner. While crofting is already leading the way in low carbon agriculture, crofters are prepared to do even more to help reach the Scottish Government’s ambitious net-zero targets. Both embracing innovation and traditional methods will play a role in achieving this.”