Urgent need to change forestry policy
If Scottish agriculture is to be part of the solution to climate change, there must be a redefined approach to woodland expansion and forestry on agricultural land, writes NFU Scotland Vice President Andrew Connon in the union’s website blog.
Mr Connon describes the current fixation with planting trees as naïve at best, certainly short sighted, and having the potential to be damaging in other economic, environmental and social aspects.
He is calling for a balanced approach before it is too late and states that the next Scottish Government must be challenged and be prepared to have a rethink at the earliest opportunity before catastrophic damage is done to Scotland’s agricultural industry. He writes: ‘I am receiving fresh calls every week from despairing farmers and crofters across Scotland telling me of another farm or estate destined for tree planting.
‘The more of Scotland’s limited productive land that shifts from farming to forestry, the more we are likely to simply offshore our emissions or even increase our carbon footprint.
‘In addition, land acquisitions for forestry, combined with the potential for carbon trading are already creating inflated land prices that are outwith the reach of commercial farming activities whilst restricting opportunities for new entrants to the industry.’
NFU Scotland has long recognised that tree planting, in the right place, has a key role to play in tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. It is in favour of farm woodlands that integrate with existing farm enterprises offering many benefits from mixed broadleaf/hardwood and conifer plantings without compromising food production and farm business viability regardless of land ownership or tenure.
‘However, NFU Scotland remains opposed to whole farm afforestation on a commercial scale that reduces agricultural activity and food production whilst potentially accelerating land abandonment,’ concludes Mr Connon.
Read the full blog at www. nfus.org.uk/news/blog/ scotland-needs-a-definedapproach-to-forestry