Llanover Estate had 35 hectares of grazing land that was declining in profitability and had an uncertain future with the risk of reducing subsidies for livestock production post Brexit. It was decided to change the land use from agriculture to forestry and an application was submitted to Welsh Government for grant aid under the Glastir Woodland Creation Scheme.
The application was accepted, following an expression of interest, to go forward for a detailed submission. A forest design plan was proposed and after negotiations with stakeholders and Natural Resources Wales a contract was signed by the Estate.
The area has been planted with a mixture of species comprising Sitka spruce, Norway spruce, Douglas fir, oak, cherry and alder. This mixture allowed the estate to enhance the biodiversity whilst ensuring a future income from the commercial conifers.
The owner will now receive an annual payment for 12 years as well as the initial planting grant. It is expected that the productive conifer will be ready to thin by 2033 with further thinnings every five years and a rotation length between thirty five and fifty years. All timber income is currently tax free.
Demand is high for home-grown timber with prices higher than they have been for many years. With 80% of UK timber imported there is a healthy domestic demand for timber products. Farmers and landowners may wish to give consideration to diversifying into forestry as a means of generating a new source of income.