Event celebrates rising interest in trees on crofts

Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing at Crofting conference
Norette Ferns

A recent two-day conference celebrated rising interest in trees on crofts and saw the launch of a best practice handbook.

180 delegates from across the crofting counties gathered in Boat of Garten on 9 and 10 May 2019 at the conference hosted by the Croft Woodlands Project. 

The event celebrated nearly thirty years of croft woodlands since the Crofter Forestry Act of 1991, as well as four years of the Croft Woodlands Project.  Attendees heard from speakers including Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight and Scottish Forestry CEO Jo O’Hara.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing gave the opening address on the second day of the conference. He said:

"The crofting sector is based on some of the most traditional land management practices, but is at the same time very innovative and forward thinking. Nowhere is that more true than in the sphere of woodland creation. Crofters have been ahead of the curve in grasping the benefits of woodland creation. Climate change is high on the agenda at the moment and trees are seen as part of the solution. I am delighted that trees on crofts will play their part."

;Lynbreck Croft visit, courtesy Iona Hyde

The conference included a site visit to Lynbreck Croft, home of an innovative high-nature value farming enterprise run by the winners of the Scottish Crofting Federation's 'Best Crofting Newcomer' award in 2018.

Beccy Speight of Woodland Trust said:

"A quiet revolution has been underway in the crofting counties these last few years – with huge enthusiasm for the benefits of trees, as shelter for buildings and animals, and as a source of fodder. This conference aims to take stock of what has been achieved, and send everyone home to achieve even more in future."

"Highlands and Islands Woodlands Handbook” distilling wisdom and advice gained over decades of experience was launched at the conference.

Written by Bernard Planterose, and including case studies from crofters across the region, the advice and guidance is based on decades of hands-on experience.

Copies can be downloaded from www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/highlandwoodshandbook

The Croft Woodlands Project is a partnership between Woodland Trust Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scottish Forestry, Point and Sandwick Trust, Coigach & Assynt Living Landscapes, Argyll Small Woods Cooperative, Shetland Amenity Trust, Orkney Woodland Project and Highland Small Communities Housing Trust.

Funding for the conference is gratefully acknowledged from Scottish Forestry, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Hugh Fraser Foundation.