Funding boost for woodland planting

Farmers have been encouraged by Forestry Commission Scotland to integrate woodlands into their land use

The Scottish Government has trebled funding for tree-planting schemes in the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) area which stretches from Fife to Ayrshire.

The money has been committed after farmers were encouraged by Forestry Commission Scotland to integrate woodlands into farming, leading to around 2500ha of woodlands being planned this year. If they all come to fruition it will be the highest tree planting level in the area for almost 20 years.

The news comes in the week the UK Government announced a commitment to tree planting in its 25-year environmental plan.

Scottish Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing announced the extra budget to the network which he said was regarded as an essential element for Scotland’s long-term economic recovery.

“The aim is to restore and transform the area’s landscape, making it a better place to live and do business in,” he said.

“I am very pleased to see woodland creation activity at such high levels – it is very encouraging news and I congratulate all for the hard work in achieving this. I am especially pleased to note the high level of applications from farmers and landowners wishing to integrate more woodland into their existing businesses to improve their viability.

“We need to keep up this impetus.   I have therefore trebled the funding available for the CSGN contribution and adjusted the grant rates so we can support more applications  and up to 1,000 additional hectares per year.”

Meanwhile a snapshot of the standing value of commercial conifer timber has shown price stability in the market in the six months to September 2017.

However the report by land agents Bidwells, indicates that shortages in supply could force prices up.

The Bidwells timber price database records the prices paid in 75 transactions covering almost 615,000 cubic metres of timber traded mainly in Scotland, but with some information from Northern England and Wales.

The company’s head of forestry, Raymond Henderson said that compared to the returns in a report for the previous six months, there appeared to be little significant change in the prices paid.

“But this picture is perhaps not being backed up by current reports of supply shortages and increasing upwards pressure on standing sales values,” he added.

“Clearly, the range of prices being achieved for individual lots of similar average tree size is vast, and this will depend on factors such as species, timber quality, location and ease of working.”