16 Sep 2021

Tea and Trees with Crofters

During Scotland's Climate Week 2021, Lyn White, forestry and farming development officer, talks about trees and crofters.

Many people might think that Scottish Forestry is mostly involved in funding large woodland creation projects – but that’s not the case.

In fact, around 80 per cent of recent schemes that we awarded forestry grants to are for smaller scale woodland projects – and this includes crofters.

All tree planting projects, both large and small, all have an important part to play in helping Scotland tackle climate change and reach its goal of NetZero by 2045.

Lyn White web size

Big interest from crofters
When the Integrating Trees Network was launched earlier this year we were delighted at the fantastic response we had from the crofting community.

Crofters were in touch expressing a keen interest in the developing network and wanted to know how they could be involved. The interest was so great that it soon became clear that we should run events purely for crofters.

The first of these events – Tea and Trees for Crofters - took place on the 18th of August.

The main aim of the online event was to promote an opportunity for informal discussion about tree planting on crofts. We wanted to offer a relaxed meeting where crofters could share their experiences of tree planting – warts and all.

That’s exactly what we got too – we heard all about the challenges crofters face with tree planting but also how they overcame these and were getting the benefits.

Special guests to for the Tea and Trees event included Iona Hyde, who works for the Woodland Trust on the Croft Woodland Project. We also welcomed Andrew Hall who is a Shetland crofter who has fully integrated tree planting as part of his business and Sandra MacKenzie from Scottish Forestry’s Highland and Islands office.

We had crofters attending the meeting from all over Skye, North Uist, Applecross, Lewis and Sutherland.

Highland Cows at Loch Katrine

Great discussion
It was a great hour of discussion, full of folk sharing their experiences of tree planting, asking advice and even highlighting how the trees can provide benefits to bullocks and bees.

What was very useful too was getting crofters to speak about their initial reasons for integrating trees into their crofts. We heard much about the species that were chosen and why, the creation of micro climates and grazing opportunities, and why different types of soil makes a big difference.

Other topical issues that were explored included funding and the paperwork involved, growing fruit trees and the use of fencing.

By the end of the hour we had covered many areas and with the number of questions still be asked on the use of shelter belts, it was decided that we would hold a future session with a focus on that very subject.

Feedback on the first Tea and Trees for Crofters meeting was really positive with comments such as “Very good session. Very worthwhile and interesting.” summing up the feeling after the event.

X Ewes lambs shade N Crown Copyright

Book for next crofters event
The next Tea and Trees for Crofters event is to be held on Tuesday 28th September. We’d love to hear more tree planting experiences and get a lively discussion going again. We will be limiting numbers so please register as soon as you can.

Other Integrating Trees Network events:
Integrating Trees Network Event: Wednesday, 22nd September 7pm – 8pm
Andrew Whiteford will introduce us to Burnfoot Farm, a 3500 acre hill beef and sheep farm, near Sanquhar. He will talk about his family’s new venture into woodland creation and forest infrastructure, through the Forestry Grant Schemes Sheep and Trees grant. Book your free place here.

Integrating Trees Network Event Thursday 14th October 7pm – 8pm
The Barbour family will introduce us to their family farm Mains of Fincastle. A 540 Ha beef and sheep hill farm in Perthshire. They will discuss why plant trees, objectives, the process and challenges. How they have successfully integrated trees into their farming business. Book your free place here.