Seeking Shelter in Trees

Scotland map in trees

Woodlands can have many benefits.

There’s no doubt about it –  2022 has been (and continues to be) an incredibly challenging year. Against a backdrop of rapidly rising costs, turbulent market conditions, and accelerating climate change, many are understandably looking for any means to shelter from current and future storms, of both meteorological and metaphorical varieties. Increasingly, many are seeking to find shelter in trees.

Forestry and woodlands have an unrivalled history of providing shelter - to livestock, crops, and settlements, but also to farmers, landowners, businesses and investors during times of uncertainty.

By no means a short-term investment, trees take many years to grow, and planting new woodlands requires commitment to a permanent land-use change, as well as to the vital care and maintenance required to establish new woodlands within the landscape. Despite the long commitment required to establish new woodlands, increasing numbers of landowners are choosing to plant trees, with over 13,800 hectares of new woodlands planted in 2021-22 across the UK.

Woodlands can have many benefits. A well-integrated farm woodland can provide shelter or shade for livestock, crops, and settlements alike, vital as we experience increasingly severe weather events of droughts/heatwaves in summer, and blizzards/gales in winter.

Woodlands also offer the opportunity for diversification of income for farms and businesses, and an effective means to build financial resilience within a farm or rural business by creating new income streams. Many within the farming sector are concerned (understandably) about rising costs, changing grant support systems such as Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and over reliance on comparatively few (and potentially unstable) revenue streams. Woodlands offer a means to branch out to other areas of income generation, and if planting commercial species, to generate long-term income potential with thinning and harvesting phases delivering far into the future.

Thanks to the rise in Natural Capital Finance, woodlands also now offer opportunities to unlock hidden value from land in the form of carbon credit income generation - in many cases, generating significant additional value to woodlands projects. Carbon credits, when used effectively, can generate significant additional capital for projects, releasing income from land without having to sell the land itself.

Trees also provide protection and/or restoration of biodiverse havens within the landscape, offering valuable habitat to thousands of species, not to mention their ability to deliver significant capture and sequestration of carbon, performing a vital role in tackling global climate change and delivering Net Zero ambitions.

In challenging markets, many would question if now is the right time to plant trees. While current economic conditions may appear bleak, there remains an ever-growing demand for timber. We consume significant volumes of timber every year (at present, 80 per cent of our timber used in UK is imported), and this demand for timber and timber products is forecast to continue to grow for years to come.

We need timber for so many sectors now, with some uses less obvious than others:

  • For sawlogs to form construction materials required to build a de-carbonised housing stock.
  • For the supply of biomass to generate affordable energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • For a vast range of alternative timber products, including pulp and fibre which form the foundation of thousands of products ranging from toilet roll to lyocell t-shirts, from wood-based bioplastic packaging to pharmaceuticals, to name but a few.

The forestry industry can, at times, be a daunting landscape to navigate. Here at SAC Consulting we have an expert team of Forestry Consultants located across Scotland and ready to help you define your woodland goals and guide you on your journey to achieving these. Our specialists provide professional, independent, and impartial advice tailored to your own individual needs and objectives.

Find out more about our Forestry & Woodland Services, or email

Posted by Ben Law on 11/10/2022

Tags: Forestry, SAC Consulting
Categories: Sustainability | Consulting and Commercial