Sheep men slam tree plan

Ken Fletcher
25 Feb 2011
THE SCOTTISH Government’s single-minded drive to cover Scotland’s hillsides in trees to fulfil its targets for carbon capture has been slammed by sheep farmers who see it not just a threat to their livelihood, but to the wider industry.
George Milne, the National Sheep Association’s Scottish development officer, said blanket tree planting was a major worry for the NSA and posted a challenge to the government about the issue during last weekend’s agm of the Scottish region.
“This was first raised by members at a committee meeting held early last summer. Since then the NSA has met with the Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, twice to raise its fears and concerns that to meet the Scottish Government’s targets of planting 10,000 ha/year for five years is going to devastate the countryside and hill farming,” he told the meeting.
He picked three main arguments against the plans – the skyline in many areas would be spoilt; trees need the best ground in a hill situation to grow, leaving what is left totally useless for sheep production; and that integration between trees and sheep production, which was mooted by government as the way forward, is not happening in many areas.
He also questioned whether large tracts of land given over to single species fir trees was the way forward, asking: “Are we planting the right mix of trees to help against climate change? It’s a question we have asked, but never had a reasonable answer to.”
• For the full story, please see the February 26 The Scottish Farmer