Integrating hill sheep production and newly established native woodland: achieving sustainability through multiple land use in Scotland
A novel system combining hill sheep production with native woodland creation has been established in a Scottish mountain valley. This involved implementing an off-wintering regime for a Scottish Blackface ewe flock, fencing approximately one-quarter of the valley, and planting native trees within the fenced area. Comparisons between initial bio-economical modelling results and actual monitored data over five years were made, to assess the potential success of such a combined system in terms of flock economics, local labour, woodland establishment and vegetation and bird impacts. Participative research to assess public benefits (including biodiversity) and uptake by the industry was also carried out. Results showed that with the exception of the slow rate of woodland establishment, results exceeded predictions, especially for the combined system economics, where actual returns were 20% more than predicted. The public and the industry were also very supportive of such an approach (78% and 68% of them respectively). It could also be argued that there is the potential to fully integrate the system in the future by grazing within the woodland and increased use for recreation and amenity, providing evidence that such a multiple land use approach is a viable one for upland and hill areas.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability