Joint Call To Enable Integration Of Trees Alongside Food Production

Woodland Trust Scotland, Soil Association Scotland and NFU Scotland have called on the Scottish Government to help enable farmers and crofters to integrate trees alongside food production.

At a well-attended event at the Royal Highland Show on Friday 23 June, hosted by the Trust, the three organisations came together to highlight their shared position through a published briefing. Deputy First Minister and Minister for Finance Shona Robison and invited guests from across the farming and environmental sector heard that while some farmers and crofters have taken steps to integrate trees, hedgerows and woodland with their farming businesses, there are still significant barriers to making this more common.

Andrew Connon, Vice President NFU Scotland said: “The integration of trees on farms is not about land use change, it is about integrating trees, hedges and woodlands while maintaining agricultural production. While there are concerns from our members in relation to large scale woodland creation on agricultural land in Scotland, NFUS supports an integrated approach which prioritises the right tree in the right place.
“The Scottish Government needs to make it easier for people to access funding options to integrate trees on farms and crofts. This means they need to be more farmer-friendly, reducing red tape and bureaucracy, and providing more flexibility and options for smaller areas of planting.
“Our primary producers play an essential role within rural communities and economies across the length and breadth of Scotland. By removing the barriers associated with planting trees alongside agricultural production, we can ensure that the great many benefits of farming and crofting can continue while also delivering on food production, climate change and biodiversity.”
Alastair Seaman, Director of Woodland Trust Scotland said: “We have been helping farmers and crofters to plant trees and hedges for many years and we know there is demand for tailored, accessible schemes and advice.
“As land use payments are reviewed, we think more support should be made available through public grants to allow the well-planned integration of trees on farms and crofts alongside food production. We need a mechanism tailored to farmers and crofters. Woodland Trust Scotland is delighted to collaborate with Soil Association Scotland and NFU Scotland to get this important message out.”
David McKay, Head of Policy at Soil Association Scotland said: “We were delighted to share a platform with NFU Scotland and Woodland Trust at the Royal Highland Show to demonstrate our collective support for integrating trees on farms and crofts in Scotland.
“This joint briefing sets out the ways in which carefully planned tree planting can maintain, and in some cases, enhance food production. For example, in dairy systems, the use of shelterbelts has been shown to reduce heat stress in animals and improve milk yields.  Trees on farms can also provide a wide range of benefits to wider society, capturing carbon, supporting pollinators and reducing the risk of downstream flooding, while farm-scale woodland creation can add a timber production element to the farming system.”

According to the stakeholders, the Scottish Government should:

  • Provide adequate, accessible and flexible funding options to integrate trees on farms and crofts.
  • Address the limited scope and flexibility of the Forestry Grant Scheme agroforestry option to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place and encourage small scale planting.
  • Ensure there are non-competitive options that are not bound to a time-restricted application process.
  • Make it easier for tenant farmers to access support.
  • Encourage knowledge and skills exchange between farmers, foresters and agricultural consultants, on what options are available

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