Forest tenancy first in Scotland

A new form of forest tenure has been established in Galloway, the first of its type in Scotland.

Mark Rowe has become the first holder of a woodlot licence issued under the auspices of the Scottish Woodlot Association, on the Corsewall Estate near Stranraer.

Mark, 32, runs a forestry consultancy and mobile sawmill business and has broad experience in rural land management.

The woodlot licence covers 37ha of mixed woodland on the estate and initially will be an 18 month pilot to establish the concept, though all parties are committed to a longer term agreement following this first phase.

Under the terms of the licence Mark will be responsible for managing the woodlot according to a management plan agreed with the landowner, Angus Carrick-Buchanan. This will include felling and extracting timber, which he will then be allowed to process and sell himself, as firewood and sawn timber. In return Mark will pay an annual rental for the woodlot.

The concept of woodlot licences has been inspired by the situation in British Columbia (BC) where the Provincial Government has been running a highly successful woodlot licence programme on Crown (government) land for over 30 years. There, they are seen as an important part of a diverse forestry sector, delivering particular local and community benefits, and as such are being actively promoted and expanded by the Government of BC.

The Scottish Woodlot Association (SWA) has been established to take forward the concept in Scotland, where recent research has revealed the ownership and management of forestry to be highly concentrated. This results in both a lack of diversity in the sector, and also a lack of opportunity for individuals to get involved in managing woodland for themselves. The SWA hope in time that woodlot licence tenure will become an important ‘family forestry’ model in a more diverse Scottish forestry.