New grants package for sheep farmers
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. gov.uk/scotlandgrants