Woodland creation criteria for land leasing

This page sets out the general criteria relating to the proposed scheme and also, in section 2, the definitions of productive woodland under the scheme. 

1. General criteria

Each lease opportunity will be considered on its merits, and the objectives and final lease details will be specific to a given lease area. However, the following general criteria will apply:

1.1 Principle objective

The principal objective is to establish productive woodland. This is defined in the Scotland Rural Development Programme woodland creation options for productive conifer woodland (low & high cost) and productive broadleaved woodland. Options can include short rotation forestry, but beyond satisfying normal landscaping and habitat network requirements they should not include a significant non-productive element.

1.2 Preferences

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) wishes to establish productive woodland only on land that is part of an ongoing farming business. However, this does not exclude approaches from landholders seeking to lease the significant proportion of an existing farming business land holding, provided that the land has not been resumed through a contested notice to quit.

Collaborative applications from neighbouring landholders are welcome as long as the areas of land are immediately adjacent and there is a single nominated applicant representing the landholders involved.

1.3 Net plantable area

The minimum net plantable area should be not less than 30 Ha. This will require a site of circa 43 Ha gross. Each area of land must normally include at least 70% of potential net plantable area.

1.4 Land capability for agriculture

FCS is interested in leasing land designated as grade 6 to grade 4 in the James Hutton Institute Soil Research class descriptions. We may lease a proportion of better quality land if there are overriding social or environmental benefits. In every case, all potential conversion of land to Woodland will adhere to the FCS Woodland Creation on Agricultural Land Guidance.

1.5 Brownfield sites

We will consider brownfield sites, but these must not be heavily contaminated and they will be subject to a land quality appraisal to determine suitability as part of the option period.

1.6 Access to the site

All lease areas must be accessible from the public highway for establishment and future timber traffic.

1.7 Complexity of site

We are seeking low complexity sites for relatively simple planting schemes. Shape/area of schemes must represent good value in terms of fencing and will usually be for a single area of land.

1.8 Duration of forest plan

Following an environmental impact assessment (if required), all lease areas will be covered by an approved ten-year forest plan.

1.9 Complying with the UK Forestry Standard

All planting proposals must comply with the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard.

1.10 United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Scheme

Lease areas will be managed to meet the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS).

1.11 Established areas to remain as woodland

FCS expects all areas established to remain as woodland as detailed in the landowner warranty in the lease documentation. Woodland is established when it is aged between 10-20 years (species dependent) and/or not less than 85% of the crop is at, or exceeds, 7 cm diameter at breast height.

1.12 Protection

We will normally protect trees from browsing damage by appropriate fencing although other protection options may be considered.

1.13 Deer and pest management responsibilities

The appointed establishment contractor will have responsibility for deer and pest management that permits successful establishment.

1.14 Shooting and game stocking

Rough shooting can be retained by the landholder. Game stocking may be permitted during the lease period, but we will need to agree specific details with the landholder to ensure we can comply with UKWAS.

1.15 Road construction

FCS will construct the minimum roading necessary (length and specification) to provide the access required to create woodland. This work will take account of environmental constraints, e.g. watercourse crossings.

1.16 Accompanying documentation for applying under Option B

Where an application for Option B (fully costed submission) is made, the application must be accompanied by a completed Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) and an excel spreadsheet detailing the annual cash-flow proposed for the full ten year lease period

2. Establishment Criteria

Productive woodland under the lease scheme is defined as:

 Woodland Creation Option  Composition  Minimum stocking density per hectare at year 5 or when established; Short rotation forestry

Productive conifer woodland (low cost)

  • up to 85% conifers but predominantly spruce
  • at least 5% broadleaves
  • up to 10% open ground

Spruce - 2500

Broadleaves - 1100

Productive conifer woodland (high cost)

  • up to 85% other conifers, e.g. Scots Pine, Douglas Fir, Larch
  • at least 5% broadleaves
  • up to 10% open ground

Pine - 3000
Douglas Fir, Larch - 2500
Broadleaves - 1100

Productive broadleaved woodland

  • at least 85% productive broadleaves, e.g. Oak, Beech, Sycamore, Ash
  • up to 5% other broadleaves
  • up to 10% open ground

Oak, Beech - 3100

Sycamore, Ash - 2500

Other Broadleaves - 1100

Short Rotation Forestry (SRF)

  • at least 85% Short Rotation Forestry species
  • up to 5% other broadleaves
  • up to 10% open ground

Alder, Ash, Aspen (inc. Hybrid) Silver Birch, Eucalyptus, Lime, Poplar, Rauli, Sweet Chestnut & Sycamore

Douglas Fir, Larch, Sitka Spruce & Western Hemlock