The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) welcomes the recent upgrade to farming schemes announced by the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP on Thursday 4 January 2024.
As the biggest update to the UK’s farming schemes since leaving the European Union, we’re pleased to see trees on farms moving up the agenda based on their wider benefits to business and the environment. Around 50 new actions that farmers can get paid for across all types of farm businesses, including actions for agroforestry, were among the improvements to the schemes. The new actions for the creation and maintenance of in field agroforestry systems have been designed to cover a wider range of farmers and land types.
This announcement may lead to more questions than answers from the forestry sector – harnessing the relationships between professional foresters and farmers will be key to success. We believe that there is a need to build transparency and trust, and encourage fairness and pragmatism in relations between the forestry and agricultural sectors. As such, while we support the increased payment rates and extended contracts for woodland creation and maintenance, we would like to see more equitable payment rates for woodland creation, maintenance, and agroforestry schemes.
Louise Simpson, Executive Director of the ICF, commented:
“The many benefits of integrated tree and forest systems need to be recognised, be they environmental or commercial, and all of which should comply with the UK Forestry Standard. Whilst we appreciate that agroforestry has the potential to help us meet our planting and environmental targets, it will be of limited benefit if trees are not correctly established and maintained to maximise resilience, biodiversity and soil health.
“As a professional body the ICF is ideally positioned to provide support to governments and sector organisations, and would welcome further engagement in assisting landowners with finding professional advice and support.”
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