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“A blueprint for sustainable and integrated farming and crofting activity in the hills and uplands of Scotland”

The future direction of crofting and upland farming in Scotland has been laid out in a new report.

The sector led group has put forward practical and meaningful solutions which it wishes to see the next Scottish Government take fully forward.

The Climate Change Plans for Scotland have a target of reducing agricultural emissions by 31% by 2032.

In their report, The Hill Upland and Crofting Group, record that methane emissions by cattle and sheep have already been falling mainly due to the reduction in livestock numbers. The report provides examples of activities which would focus on achieving Scotland’s climate change targets for the sector.

Some of the recommendations are to reduce the number of unproductive animals, encourage biodiversity and to change the financial support packages the sector receives. Key to that would be to have agricultural support payments clearly linked to the delivery of agricultural activity.

Agricultural support payments should be targeting agricultural activity aimed at food production, and should therefore not be accessible for alternative land uses or towards the production of crops not intended for the food chain.

The group had only 10 weeks in which to prepare their report which they acknowledge was really challenging. On livestock production the report mainly features sheep as another group has produced a report on the Beef Suckler sector.

The report acknowledges the importance of restoring and improving our Peatlands, of tree planting where appropriate and the management of deer numbers.

Where natural regeneration is likely to succeed, greater emphasis should be put on encouraging natural regeneration of native woodland over non-native planted woodland as a means to minimise soil disturbance and protect soil carbon stocks whilst also maintaining a field layer which would otherwise be lost as a result of conventional plantation models.

The Scottish Government brought together several groups representing our successful agricultural sector which produces high quality food. The groups have adopted an unified approach to a sustainable farming future and land use.

You can download the report from the Hill Upland and Crofting Group here:

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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