New grants pack­age for sheep farm­ers

The Oban Times - - Farming -

FORESTRY Com­mis­sion Scot­land has opened up a new fund­ing op­por­tu­nity to help hill and up­land sheep farm­ers boost their busi­ness po­ten­tial.

A spe­cial fund­ing pack­age un­der the Forestry Grant Scheme will now help farm­ers in­te­grate new wood­lands be­tween 10 ha and 50 ha into their farms.

The Sheep and Trees Forestry Grants Pack­age will en­able farm­ers to ap­ply for a wood­land cre­ation grant and the for­est in­fra­struc­ture grant for the same area at the same time. This al­lows farm­ers to build ac­cess routes whilst also get­ting grants to get new wood­lands es­tab­lished.

A typ­i­cal 50 ha wood­land could re­ceive up to £ 200,000 for wood­land cre­ation and up to £ 40,000 in in­fra­struc­ture grant aid. The fund­ing will not af­fect an ap­pli­cant’s Ba­sic Pay­ments.

Jo O’Hara, head of Forestry Com­mis­sion Scot­land said: ‘ It is vi­tal that farm­ers can con­tinue to keep their sheep on the hills. Our new grants pack­age can sup­port this through help­ing them in­te­grate wood­lands into their busi­ness, in­creas­ing its com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­ity.

‘Care­fully man­aged wood­lands can in­crease farm pro­duc­tiv­ity and pro­vide many other ben­e­fits too. The fund­ing pack­age cre­ates an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify and take ad­van­tage of land pre­vi­ously not con­sid­ered pos­si­ble due to a lack of ac­cess.’

NFU Scot­land's di­rec­tor of pol­icy Jon­nie Hall said: ‘ While blan­ket forestry on pro­duc­tive land re­mains a hugely con­tentious is­sue with our mem­ber­ship, for many of those who keep sheep on hills and up­lands, this presents an op­por­tu­nity to plant the right trees in the right place.

‘Done well, it can pro­vide valu­able shel­ter belts grown on poorer ar­eas, im­prove the over­all health and man­age­ment of the flock, be a route into up­grad­ing fenc­ing and ac­cess and pro­vide a di­ver­si­fied in­come stream.

‘There is an im­por­tant role for forestry within the Scot­tish agricul- tu­ral sec­tor and this scheme shows that wood­lands can be bet­ter in­te­grated into agri­cul­tural land use, with­out com­pro­mis­ing our abil­ity to pro­duce live­stock and crops or the sig­nif­i­cance of those ac­tiv­i­ties to lo­cal economies, bio­di­ver­sity and com­mu­ni­ties.

‘Fu­ture land use should not be a stark choice be­tween farm­ing or forestry, re­new­ables or con­ser­va­tion. While food pro­duc­tion must be the pri­or­ity, all can be ac­com­mo­dated if the pol­icy frame­work that drives land use de­ci­sions can be more co­her­ent and bet­ter in­te­grated.’

Ap­pli­ca­tions for this fund­ing are wel­come all year round and for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion visit: www.forestry.­land­grants

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