New Borders forests to benefit farming

A new project is exploring opportunities for the creation of new woodlands in the Borders which can deliver multiple benefits to the region.

By David Walker
Friday, 20th September 2019, 10:51 am
New woodlands are to be opened up in the Borders.
New woodlands are to be opened up in the Borders.

Scottish Borders Council is one of four local authority areas in the south of Scotland taking part in a Scottish Forestry pilot project with the aim of developing a new approach to forestry that seeks better integration of new woodland with farming, communities and other land uses to maximise the benefits.

The pilot will consider areas where there may be the capacity for more large-scale woodland but ensure that there is the right land use and landscape fit.

The project is one part of the response to Scottish Government targets around climate change and forestry, including the desire to ensure a sustainable supply of wood products to support forestry industries. The national aim is for the creation of 10,000 hectares of new woodland per year, increasing to 15,000ha in 2024. As part of the project in the Scottish Borders two pilot areas have been chosen, including areas in the Upper Ale Water to the Ettrick Water and Upper Teviot to the Hermitage Water.

Sign up to our daily Berwickshire News Today newsletter

The council is working with the Southern Uplands Partnership and Borders Forest Trust to engage with a broad range of stakeholders on the project. Drop-in events are being held on September 25 at Kirkhope Hall in Ettrickbridge and at Teviothead Hall on September 30. The events will run from 10.30am to 8.30pm and these are open to anyone with an interest. They would like your views to help identify more opportunities new woodland may bring through jobs, training, access and recreation, local processing, timber transport improvements and community involvement in new woodlands through to a range of benefits, such as natural flood management.

Ambitious targets for woodlands

The Scottish Government has ambitious targets to increase woodland cover in Scotland from 18% to 21% by 2032. To achieve this will require the current 10,000ha p.a. planting target to increase to 15,000ha pa by 2024-25.

The targets are embedded in the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan, with woodland creation making a vital contribution to national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. This is reflected in the recently revised Scottish Forestry Strategy.

A second key driver for the targets is to ensure stability of timber supply to support an important sector of the rural economy worth nearly £1 billion to Scotland’s GVA. The Climate Change Plan has an ambition to increase the use of Scottish wood products in construction.

There is already guidance for woodland creation in Scottish Borders. The Scottish Borders Woodland identifies preferred, potential and sensitive areas for new woodland based on landscape, land capability for forestry and other key criteria.