New Woodland Creation – A new beginning

Larriston is one of the largest new commercial woodlands planted in the UK in recent times. It sits within a larger complex of forest near Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders.

The farm was put up for the sale by the previous owner due to the relatively poor land quality and need for capital investment. Without significant expenditure the farm was no longer seen as a viable farm unit and the poor lamb price coupled with uncertainty over future subsidies didn’t justify the required input.

The property was bought by a private investment client in late 2012, with the help of Tilhill’s Investment Team, with a view to creating a new commercial woodland. The following 3 years saw a long and drawn out approval process, with close to 20 iterations of concept design being worked up and consulted on before the final design was settled upon and approval granted for the planting to
begin. This was in late spring 2016 and, in a bid to get a head start, approximately 100ha of new woodland was planted before the end of the 2016 planting season.

The balance of the works – vegetation control, ground preparation, fencing and planting were undertaken from late summer 2016 through to July 2017. The cool, wet summer experienced this year has been ideal for the establishment of the young trees and will provide the best start to their life in the Scottish Borders.

After almost a year of intense activity the initial planting phase of the Larriston Farm woodland creation project is now complete with approximately 1.3 million new trees having been planted, bringing to an end the initial surge of activity on this impressive woodland creation project.

Whilst the project has seen in excess of 1m Sitka spruce planted, which will help support the forestry industry and wider rural economy into the foreseeable future, there are also a wide range of other benefits which aren’t always as obvious or easy to quantify:

Whilst the completion of the initial planting works brings an end to the largest spike in activity, the next five years will still see significant maintenance activity, providing local employment and supporting the Borders rural economy. Lower, but significant, input will still be required until the crops are 15 – 20 years old when production of thinnings would start.

This is therefore only the beginning of a hugely interesting and productive phase of Larriston’s future. One which will see many rotations of high quality commercial timber produced helping deliver Scottish Government timber targets, whilst protecting the environment and providing employment and sustainable resource for generations to come.

 “The past year has been the busiest and most challenging of my forestry career so far. Delivering this project has been massively rewarding and seeing the woodland develop over coming years will make me immensely proud. I am pleased to have been able to be involved in such a prestigious project and the lessons learned will be invaluable for my future in the industry. I look forward to seeing the first production from the crops and will be proud to say that I was key in delivering the creation of such an important new woodland.

The additional benefits provided are also very satisfying and we have already received positive feedback from the local community about this aspect of the project, especially the more open access and new routes that are now available to them.”
Andrew Fisher – Forest Manager

“Once the go ahead was given and works started on the ground the long frustrating approval process soon became a distant memory. I am very proud of what our team has delivered on this project. The determination and work ethic is clear to see in the quality of what has been delivered on the ground, all in a very short time period.

All of the contractors who have been involved thus far really stepped up to the challenge and pulled together to ensure work was completed to a high standard and on time. I thank them all wholeheartedly for their hard work, patience and professionalism. Some of the challenges faced forced impressive innovation that will no doubt be seen in practice throughout the forest industry for a long time.

The delivery of 560ha of new woodland and all the spin off benefits is a huge positive for the forest industry, local community and Scottish Borders rural economy, both now and for decades to come.”
Eddie Addis – Regional Manager