TWO eco-minded young farmers have won a trip to the Basque Country thanks to their enterprising forestry co-op plan.
Students Douglas Mathison (22) from Cardrona and Andrew Tullie (21) from Hawick entered a national competition run by Co-operative Education Trust Scotland (CETS) to find a collaborative initiative that could add real value to Scotland’s economy.
The students from the rural business management course at the Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh came up with a plan to help Borders farmers capitalise on the biomass market: a Borders farm forestry co-op to turn waste timber into woodchip and saw-logs for domestic and commercial heating. As well as generating revenues, the scheme would aid good forestry management – and contribute to national renewable energy targets.
Douglas said: “Demand for woodchip boilers in homes is pushing up the price of biomass and making it more attractive for farmers to use their woodland in this way. By joining forces, farmers can benefit from economies of scale in clearing, processing and marketing wood that might otherwise rot on the forest floor.”
The students will visit Mondragon, home to more than 250 co-operative businesses employing about 85,000 people, in October. They will visit some of the region’s co-operatives and study the theory behind shared ownership.
“It was a big surprise to win but we’re really excited about going,” Douglas added.