Tree thinning - reaping rewards

The Heres One I Planted Earlier event takes place on Wednesday, August 28, meeting at the White Horse Hotel in Strichen at 10.30am
The Heres One I Planted Earlier event takes place on Wednesday, August 28, meeting at the White Horse Hotel in Strichen at 10.30am

A strong demand for wood fuel means pioneering Aberdeenshire farmers are now reaping the rewards of trees planted 20 years ago.

Planted through the Grampian Forest Challenge Fund, the woods are now being thinned, with farmers pleasantly surprised by the high value of their timber.

Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) says yields are consistently higher than 50 tonnes per hectare and net income can be as high as £20 per tonne, or more in some cases. Income from timber sales also has the advantage of being tax free.

Sitka spruce, the main species used in the woods, has grown extremely fast thanks to the moist, fertile soils and long growing season.

To maximise the eventual crop of high-value sawlogs, thinning at about 18-20 years is essential to open up the crop and remove poorer quality trees.

To help farmers find out more about diversifying into new woodlands, or thinning and felling existing woodlands, FAS is holding a free event in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, later this month.

In addition to providing information on grants available for the management and establishment of new woodlands, there will also be contributions from Scottish Forestry and Tilhill Forestry, which purchased the timber from the thinnings. Lunch will be followed by a visit to Borrohill Woods, where harvesting work is under way.

Simon Jacyna, forestry consultant with SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) which delivers the FAS programme, said: “Forestry can be an excellent diversification opportunity for farmers and those who entered the Challenge Fund were pioneers as we have little experience of such high-yielding woods.”

The ‘Here’s One I Planted Earlier’ event takes place on Wednesday, August 28, meeting at the White Horse Hotel in Strichen at 10.30am.

The event is free but booking is essential. Call 01343 548 787, email tracey.mcintosh@sac.co.uk or visit www.fas.scot/forthcoming-events/