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Agriculture expert has argued that current “fixation” of planted trees does not represent a rural response to climate change, as he has called on the next Government of Scotland to reconsider the future.

Vice President Andrew Connon of NFU Scotland says that the only results that we all strive to reach are a redefined approach to forest growth and forestry on agricultural land. Connon believes that such overreliance “is at best naive and definitely short-sighted, and has the potential to damage other social, environmental and economic aspects.”
He said: “I am receiving fresh calls every week from despairing farmers and crofters across Scotland telling me of another farm or estate destined for tree planting.

Farmers Warn Planting Trees
Image Source: The National, Scotland

“The more of Scotland’s limited productive land that shifts from farming to forestry, the more we are likely to simply offshore our emissions or even increase our carbon footprint.

“In addition, land acquisitions for forestry, combined with the potential for carbon trading, are already creating inflated land prices that are outwith the reach of commercial farming activities whilst restricting opportunities for new entrants to the industry.”

The National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS) has reaffirmed its support for tree planting and its position in addressing the environment and biodiversity crises. It also reiterated its support for farm woodlands that are integrated with established farm operations. It assumes that mixed broadleaf, hardwood, and conifer plantings provide many benefits without jeopardizing food production or farm business profitability, regardless of land ownership or tenure.

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Connon warned, though: “NFU Scotland remains opposed to whole farm afforestation on a commercial scale that reduces agricultural activity and food production whilst potentially accelerating land abandonment.”

NFU Scotland has struggled to demonstrate its commitment to climate change and was committed to defending the initiatives and efforts of farmers making progress. One after the Scottish champion becoming a climate-friendly farming champion, in an NFU Scottish Next Generation group competition, Farmer Patrick Barbour, from Highland Perthshire, is supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Barbor’s 3-minute innovative, filmed video in Mains of Fincastle, in Pitlochry, demonstrates the advantages of tree planting, rich in species, bovine and sheep rotational weeding and stitching nitrogen-fixing crops to weeds.

In the video, Patrick’s sister Catherine and brother Robert explain the family farm’s approach to sustainable farming.

Farmers and crofters in Scotland were invited to film the many steps they are taking to minimize pollution and have broader environmental benefits.The judges included Claire Taylor, editor of the Scottish farmers’ political affairs team, and Peter Moss, chairman of the Next Generation of NFU Scotland.The judges described the videos for the Scottish farming industry as inspiring and perfectly advertising.

Barbour won state-of- the art drone for uploading and satellite imagery package from SoilEssentials with a tailored unused aerial vehicle (UAV).

He said: “We’re really pleased to win this as a family. It’s great for us to be able to share what we’ve been doing on the family farm here at Fincastle, and I hope people enjoy the video.”

Taylor added: “I was blown away by the quality of applications we received and the impressive ways in which Scottish farmers across the country are addressing climate change and biodiversity losses on their farms.”

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Source: The National, Scotland

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