Cautious Welcome for Forestry Pilot

NFU Scotland has given a conditional welcome to a new pilot from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) that aims to increase tree cover across the country by creating new woodlands in partnership with farmers.

The pilot would see the Commission renting suitable land from farmers for about ten years to create a new woodland, which would then be returned back to the farmer to reap the benefits of the woodland creation.

The Union believes the pilot will provide a helpful gauge on the demand for such a scheme in the future and will assist those interested in establishing farm woodlands.   However, there remain concerns that the scheme is targeted at land traditionally used for livestock production and that some of the terms and conditions of the pilot need to be determined.

If successful, and the pilot develops into a widely-available scheme, then the Union would look for cast iron assurances from the Scottish Government that it will serve agricultural interests as well as meeting the Scottish Government’s ambitious Climate Change targets. These targets aim to have 25 per cent of Scotland under trees in the future and 650,000 hectares of new forest planted in the next 40 to 65 years.

NFU Scotland’s Head of Rural Policy Jonnie Hall said:

“A future where forestry and farming are working together rather than in conflict is the right way forward. This pilot provides a means of determining the demand for such an approach to engaging the industry in significant forestry expansion.

“For those farmers interested in woodland creation, this is an initiative that could take away much of the risk associated with planting trees and leave them, after ten years, with an established woodland.  This could help farmers get over their concerns about planting trees on land that has traditionally been use for livestock and generate an income stream that may well exceed that which could be gained from farming the land as before.

“The rent that a participating farmer will be able to charge FCS over the ten years will be negotiable on a case-by-case basis.  That is important given the range of land quality targeted by the pilot.  Rents must recognise the agricultural income that will be forgone and we would want receipts from Single Farm Payment and Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme to be included as a minimum.  

“Factoring in income forgone is important as the quality of land targeted by the pilot will be classified between 3.2 and 5 on the Macaulay System.   This includes some of the most productive ground in Scotland’s Less Favoured Areas, accounts for more than a third of Scotland’s land mass and is the engine house of Scottish livestock production.

“We have asked the FCS for some further clarification on some of the detail of the pilot.  Our understanding is that the Forestry Commission pilot is suggesting that a minimum of 30 hectares of land is required to make the planting viable and that is a big step beyond normal shelterbelt creation on a farm or the average size of a farm woodland. 

“We also have questions regarding tenure and whether or not a tenant farmer can effectively sub-let land to FCS.  That is likely to depend on the terms of the tenant farmer's lease and we would have reservations if the pilot were to exclude the tenanted sector of the industry.”

 Notes to editors

  • According to the Forestry Commission Scotland, the pilot project is expected to cover a total area of around 400 hectares, covering a number of sites.  A pilot will help gauge interest in the scheme and iron out any teething problems when deciding how to develop the initiative further.
  • Applications for the pilot can be submitted from Friday 20th August on
  • All areas of woodland entering the scheme are expected to remain as woodland. 


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006


Date Published:

News Article No.: 119/10

< Article List


Report Abusive Comment

Comment Content:

Why it offends me (optional):

Have Your Say

No-one has commented on this article yet. Be the first to have your say...

New Comment


Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:

Quick Contact

Which Region do you live in?  
Are you a member of NFU Scotland?  

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.

Registred Address

NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston, Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Place of registration: Scotland

Company Registration Number: SC214564

Tel: 0131 472 4000

NFU Mutual Logo

Get the App

NFUS App QR Code

©NFU Scotland • All Rights Reserved • Web design by Big Red DigitalLog in


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to NFU Scotland. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having NFU Scotland collect the above details.