Highlands and Islands Woodlands Handbook

Highlands & Islands Woodland HandbookA new guide for crofters, communities and small woodland owners was launched at the Croft Woodland Conference on 9th May 2019. The Highlands and Islands Woodlands Handbook, published by the Croft Woodlands Project, is a comprehensive guide to establishing, managing and utilising woodland in the varied and often challenging conditions of the crofting counties. Written by Bernard Planterose, and including case studies from crofters across the region, the advice and guidance is based on decades of hands-on experience.

The Handbook includes sections on woodland establishment, management and harvesting, coppice woodlands, woodlands for energy, grazing animals and woodlands, woodlands and freshwater, agroforestry and non-timber forest products, shelterbelts and hedges, markets and uses, planning and grant applications, woodland ecology, and finally, a chapter written by Duncan Halley, looking at woodland regeneration and farming in South West Norway, a region with strong similarities to the crofting counties.

Copies can be ordered from SCF head office 01599 530005, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by paying online (in the sidebar on the right). A free, downloadable pdf is available at the Woodland Trust website.

The Croft Woodland Project is a partnership between the Woodland Trust Scotland, Scottish Crofting Federation, Scottish Forestry, Point and Sandwick Trust, Argyll Small Woods Cooperative, Orkney Woodland Project, Shetland Amenity Trust, Coigach and Assynt Living Landscapes and Highland Small Communities Housing Trust. The Heritage Lottery Fund contributed to funding of the publication.

Horticulture Handbook

handbook_250This edition is now out of print. We are currently exploring options for an update/reprint. If you would be interested in obtaining a copy please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with your details and we will contact you with when they become available.

The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has recently launched its latest publication. Horticulture: a Handbook for Crofters is a 175-page guide for growers in the challenging conditions of the crofting areas written by experienced crofters and horticultural experts with specialist knowledge of crofting conditions. Principal authors are Dr. Audrey Litterick, a horticultural consultant well-known to Highland and Island growers; Calina MacDonald, presenter of Anns a’Gharradh on BBC Alba; and John Bannister, crofter and market gardener in Skye. The book is a comprehensive and definitive guide to horticultural production in Scotland’s islands and on the western and northern seaboard.
The publication has been supported by the Scottish Government through the Scottish Rural Development Programme, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation. “Horticulture - A Handbook for Crofters”

The Crofting Law Group - Final report published

The Crofting Law Group have published their final report on ‘The Sump’, they collected significant issues and problems within existing crofting legislation
Please read the report here

Skye and Lochalsh Abattoir could be viable says Report

A study commissioned by Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) and carried out by SAC Consulting has given a positive view of prospects for a micro abattoir development for the Skye and Lochalsh area. The Scottish Government-funded report was presented to Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, at last week’s ‘Highland Sheep’ event in Dingwall.
The report envisages a facility with maximum capacity for 4000 sheep, 200 cattle and 130 pigs per year. However, projected initial throughput would be 100 cattle, 800 sheep and 130 pigs. This could result in a modest profit if the development, projected to cost in the region of £570,000, was fully funded. The report points out that island and remote mainland abattoirs cannot be seen as stand-alone businesses, but as an important part of rural infrastructure. The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that animals are slaughtered as close to where they are reared as possible and to shortening the food production and distribution chain.
An SCF spokesperson said, “We thank SAC Consulting for a very thorough and thought-provoking report. This is an important step on a long road and our abattoir working group will be studying their recommendations carefully before deciding on a way forward.”
The report will be launched at a public meeting to be announced, and the full document is available here.

Crofting redirection and redefinition required?

John MacKintosh FRAgS

Address given at the SCF Annual gathering in October 2011
Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen
We have just come through a period of reflection on crofting with the consultation on the Shucksmith Report (1) at its core. One of the issues that have hung about crofting for a long time is that of tenancy versus ownership. Frankly I have never heard a convincing argument that this issue should be discussed at all. Each and every crofter should have the right to choose whether they wish to be a tenant or an owner according to how they wish to develop their crofting land and the activity of crofting on it. I am pleased to say that is now the case but the issue may have been better dealt with by deleting the terms from the legislation altogether.
To read the full address please click here for the PDF.

Taking Stock - A study of Crofters’ stock clubs.

Livestock production on land in crofting tenure has traditionally been extensive sheep and cattle enterprises, with soil type, topography and climate limiting the number of alternatives or the option to intensify the husbandry techniques.
Stock clubs have been in existence for decades in some areas. In some instances they were set up at the same time as crofts were established, which suggests that they have an enduring quality. This study aims to determine whether stock clubs have a role to play in the current agricultural climate, their fit within the crofting regulations, to examine their structure, their benefits and weaknesses and to assess whether they provide a tool which can be employed.
To read the full report please click here for the PDF.

SCF Housing on Croft Land

SCF housing on Croft Land Study
Report of the in-depth study looking at the sustainable use of croft land to help meet rural housing needs commissioned by the SCF
Please click here for Houses on Croft Land Study in PDF format (1 MB)

Managing Small Woodlands in the Highlands and Islands

Managing small woodlands in the Highlands and Islands PDF
The handbook is presented in a number of sections covering the creation of new woodland, managing small woods, ways of realising the value, and also providing information on learning and support related to woodland management.

The shared experiences cover a range of situations and illustrate how various people have approached the management of small woods. Readers will hopefully be able to relate to some parts of the case
To download the 6mb PDF file of the handbook Please click here.

Article comparing photographs of crofts in Skye and Lochalsh

page1Extract from Rohde, R.F. (2010 in press) Written on the surface of the soil: west Highland crofting landscapes during the 20th century. In R.H. Webb, D.E. Boyer, and R.M. Turner (eds.) Repeat photography: methods and applications in the geological and ecological sciences. Island Press: Washington D.C..
For more information please contact

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To read the article please download the the Pdf (1.7 mbs)

A Pictorial Daander Trowe Shetland’s Crofting Culture

With the centenary of the Shetland Cattle Herd Book Society coming in 2010, the group decided to produce and publish a memorial book to celebrate
this occasion. The A4 book, “A Pictorial Daander Trowe Shetland’s Crofting Culture”, will be launched in September. ‘Daander Trowe’ means wander
This 230 page edition includes the history of the society and the cattle and shows how pivotal this living heritage was to the very existence of
the Shetland people. From the title you will realize that there are many photographs illustrating traditional crofting life which are not only relevant
to Shetland but all the crofting counties.
The book is available by e-mailing Clare at

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and the cost is £25 including first class postage.

Indigenous People

indigenouspeople_250Parallels between highland Crofters and Norwegian Sami and some political implications of indigenous status.
crofters-indigenous-people.pdf (4.2 mbs)

SCF Charter for Crofting

“It’s about the people - making sure they can live here.”

charterimage_250Crofting households account for around 30,000 people in the Highland and Islands around 30% of households on the mainland and 65% of those on the islands. Over three quarters of a million hectares of land are under crofters’ stewardship.
Crofting is the glue that binds rural communities across the Highlands and Islands. As well as an important part of our cultural heritage, it is an important part of our future, supporting a unique way of life, a diverse and rich environment, and a rural population in some of the most fragile areas of the Highlands and Islands.
We believe that crofting needs:
• Environmentally sound and economically viable crofting land use
• A well-regulated, well-supported crofting system
• Access to economic opportunities and services
• A strong local food economy
The Scottish Crofting Foundation calls on national and local government to take action to ensure the health of crofting for the future.

To download a PPF document (0.6 mbs) with more information on the SCF Charter for Crofting: Please Click Here