Boost the integration of trees on farms and crofts
Scottish Government should incentivise the integration of trees on farms and crofts – also known as agroforestry – with a major investment of funding over the next decade.
Agroforestry done right – the right trees in the right places – provides an opportunity to sequester carbon, increase overall biomass production, maintain food production, enhance biodiversity, improve animal health and welfare, and generate profit. Agroforestry is an important land use which will help the land use sector meet its commitments on climate and nature, as well as enabling farms to adapt to climate change and continue to produce food in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner.
Scottish Government should invest at scale over 10 years in supporting high quality agroforestry until it becomes a widely used and understood aspect of Scottish farming. It should be a key element within Tier 2, supported by capital grants for establishment, a dedicated advisory team able to advise on integration of trees within the farm and ongoing research. The agroforestry budget and programme should be managed within agriculture rather than forestry, as it is primarily a way to farm better rather than a way to plant more trees.
There need to be appropriate safeguards against speculation with land using forestry grants and claiming carbon savings at the expense of small farmers and local communities. This could lead to depopulation of rural communities, escalating land values and a deepening of the rural housing crises.
For further information:
- Integrating Trees on Farms and Crofts in Scotland – Benefits, Barriers and Opportunities, Woodland Trust Scotland and Soil Association Scotland, https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/51158/integrating-trees-on-farms-and-crofts-in-scotland.pdf
- Farming for 1.5: from here to 2045, 2021, https://www.farming1point5.org/reports