A Northern Isles crofter is encouraging farmers to make use of forestry grant support to plant trees.
Andrew Hall, who has established a crofting and agritourism business at Burravoe Croft in Shetland, made the plea after receiving funding to plant 2,500 more trees on his holding.
The funding is Mr Hall’s fourth round of financial support for woodland creation from Scottish Forestry – the Scottish Government’s forestry agency.
He has been growing trees on his croft since 2005, when he received his first forestry grant to plant 3,000 trees on former silage ground close to the crofthouse, and subsequent funding has enabled him to plant more trees and bushes.
Scottish Forestry said establishing trees on Shetland was “notoriously difficult” due to the climate and poor soil, but Mr Hall has had success growing willow and poplar.
“Diversification is vital for the financial viability of our croft,” said Mr Hall.
“In our planning, we factored tree-planting from the start, along with introducing Shetland Kye cattle and sheep to the croft.
“The trees have provided shelter belts for the livestock, transformed boggy areas for the better, and allowed us to create a scenic area for glamping pods.”
He encouraged others to look into woodland creation grant support from Scottish Forestry and said: “The application process for forestry grants has become so much easier and more user-friendly.
“The less time a crofter has to sit down doing paperwork the better – that is how it should be.”
Jonathan Hawick, Scottish Forestry’s woodland officer at the Highlands and Islands Conservancy office, said smaller woodland projects were just as important as larger schemes in helping meet government tree-planting targets.
He said: “We are very pleased Andrew is getting the many benefits that planting brings. He’s put a lot of hard work into his croft and we are delighted trees are central to his plans.”
Mr Hawick said full details of Scottish Forestry grants, which include higher rates for the Northern and Western Isles, and general woodland advice for farmers are available here.