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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-12530: Oliver Mundell (Dumfriesshire)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 9 November 2017

To ask the Scottish Government how it balances the needs of farming and forestry in rural communities such as Langholm.

Answered by: Fergus Ewing 22 November 2017

I also refer member to the answer to question S5W-12529 on 22 November 2017.

The mix of farming and forestry that exists across Scotland has developed and evolved over the past century as a result of a wide range of social, economic and environmental factors. These factors often impact differently on farming and forestry, and at times can act as significant drivers for change, such as where the economic viability or profitability of one land use is better or worse than the other. Currently we are seeing growing interest, across Scotland, in establishing new woodland, much of it on lower quality agricultural land. This is being driven in part by the reduced profitability of farming compared to forestry and timber production.

The Scottish Government has adopted a target to create 10,000ha of new woodlands per year, rising to 15,000 ha per year by 2024. Regional Forestry and Woodland Strategies have been produced by each Local Authority, including by Dumfries and Galloway Council, to help identify suitable areas for woodland expansion. Landowners, including farmers are incentivised to consider woodland creation through capital and maintenance grants provided through the Forestry Grant Scheme. Applications to the SRDP Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) for woodland expansion are prioritised using target areas within the regional forestry and woodland strategies. In developing their woodland creation proposals, applicants for FGS funding are required to take into account all relevant environmental and social considerations.

We are working proactively to support the integration of farming and forestry where possible, with the aim of encouraging farming and forestry interests to work together in partnership and consider integrated land management. This includes the provision of advice on options for forestry through the Farm Advisory Service.

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