Forestry Commission Scotland has taken the first step towards building bridges with the agricultural industry with the launch of a pilot “starter farm” tenancy scheme for young farmers who are keen to get on the first rung of the farming ladder.

Two units in Fife are being advertised and applicants will be offered the chance to lease either 49ha or 95ha under a 10 year Limited Duration Tenancy agreement starting this autumn. The Commission is also exploring opportunities elsewhere in Scotland.

The commission has become a major buyer of farmland in Scotland as the country strives to meet its target of increasing forestry cover by 17% by 2050. Farm leaders are united in their opposition to whole farm afforestation, however both NFU Scotland and the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomed the development.

Association chairman Angus McCall described it as positive and said it “demonstrates a commitment to temper woodland creation targets with the needs of agriculture”. And NFUS chief executive Scott Walker added: “It appears to take a balanced approach to how land can be best utilised in areas which are attractive both for productive woodland creation and for livestock or arable production and puts opportunities for the next generation of Scotland’s farmers right at the heart of the equation.”

Applications for the “starter farms” are now open. For further information, application details and the selection process, visit the Forestry Commission’s website

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