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Scotland's farmers encouraged to grow more trees

Timber set to be high-income industry after Brexit, according to property consultants.

Planting: Timber prices are rising (file pic).
Planting: Timber prices are rising (file pic). © Graham Horn

Scotland's farmers are being encouraged to grow more trees in a bid to help with demand for timber in the UK and provide a secure income after Brexit.

The UK is one of the world's largest net importers of timber, with around 80% of wood used in industries including construction and energy coming from overseas.

Timber prices have increased around 50% in the past 18 months, according to property consultants Bidwells.

Raymond Henderson, who is head of forestry at the firm, says the sector is more 'Brexit proof' than many other industries.

"Timber is traded world-wide, it's traded pretty much tariff free and it does not require a heavy annual subsidy to keep the industry going.

There is a very strong environmental and economical basis for growing trees now. For many farmers it should be an option that they look at."

Last year there were warnings that the timber industry was under increasing pressure to keep up with demand.

Price increases were felt by house builders and sawmills and a rise in the use of biomass burners has helped fuel the price hike.

Mr Henderson added: "We're now taking virtually anything that's made of wood out of our forests and there is a market for it."

Tom Pate, an upland farmer near Kirriemuir, diversified into forestry around three years ago.

He said: "The business really needed to change; just relying upon sheep was not going to be sustainable in the future.

"We were very fortunate that timber values started to increase at that time.

"The additional income that the felling of the forestry brought in is key to the whole sustainability of this hill area.

"Post Brexit all the experts are saying other hill farm activity, especially sheep are under real pressure and it's a real concern so I think going into forestry is a safe bet going into the future."

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