Cairns Farm Case Study

Cairns Farm is a 500ha organic sheep farm located in West Lothian. It is owned and farmed by the Hamiltons. The existing woodland, amounting to around 2% of the entire land holding, is made up predominately of old and mature Scots Pine found in small woodland pockets around the farm.

In 2010, a total of 6.5ha of new mixed conifer and native broadleaves was planted on the farm. Trees included Scots Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Sitka Spruce, Ash, Downy Birch, Rowan, Alder and Goat Willow. These were chosen to provide quick shelter for stock and to improve the look of the farm

While the main aim of the new planting was to provide shelter for the animals, several other benefits of the new woodland were identified by owner Mrs Hamilton. These include:

  • visually enhancing the landscape by "breaking things up and adding something" to the look and feel of the farm.
  • protecting and improving habitat networks for wildlife – there is already an area of very old woodland on the farm which is home to a wide range of plants, birds and animals.
  • improve drainage and, in turn, the quality of land

The planting process was managed by Central Scotland Forest Trust, with UPM Tillhill contracted to undertake the work.

This arrangement worked well for the Hamiltons, who were able to continue concentrating on their farming while others took care of the forestry work.


Grant availability for woodland creation was considered essential by the Hamiltons when it came to making their decision to plant new woodlands.

The Hamiltons benefitted hugely by using their appointed agent to manage this part of the process as well, as it allowed them to spend valuable time carrying out day-to-day management of their farm.


The greatest challenge for the Hamiltons was working out where the best place on the farm was to plant the trees in order to provide maximum benefit to their sheep. What they have now is shelter for their animals, an improved habitat for wildlife and a better looking farm.

The Hamiltons have found that woodland creation on their farm has been very worthwhile and are hoping to plant a further 1.2ha using similar species in the near future.