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Scottish Forestry increases grant support rates to boost Moray tree planting

By David Porter

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Scottish Forestry is increasing the level of forestry grant support to help counter recent inflationary pressures, particularly for smaller woodland creation projects.

The increase in forestry grants will rise by around 20 per cent for planting most smaller scale woodlands.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon.

The announcement comes in advance of the Woodland Creation Summit which is being chaired by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon.

The summit is bringing together leaders from across the forestry, land-use, environmental and community sectors to work on further actions to boost woodland creation rates in Scotland.

Ms Gougeon said: “As I set out in June when the national planting targets were published, I’m keen to provide more support to help address inflation costs as that is having a direct impact for many on their ability to start growing trees.

“With a large percentage of new woodlands being created by farmers and crofters it is important that we support them as best we can. This increase in grant support should help alleviate some of the rising costs for materials which has been a barrier for some.

“I’m looking forward to chairing the upcoming summit as it will provide an important platform in finding other practical ways to make a step change in increasing our future woodland creation levels.”

The increase in grant rates will include a number of new measures across the Forestry Grant Scheme.

Some key new changes include-

An extra £750 per ha for the first 40 ha of woodland creation in most parts of Scotland.

Extending the high cost deer fencing option throughout Scotland – increasing this by £2.30 per metre to £9.90 per metre.

Reducing the minimum specification for the small or farm woods option to make it more accessible to farmers and crofters wanting to plant woodlands of up to 10ha.

Sheep and Trees schemes, which combines funding for woodland creation with forestry and farm road accesses, will now be allowed in the Central Scotland Green Network area.

Tripling the grant for manual or mechanical bracken control from £225 to £720 per ha.

Amongst the new measures to the Forestry Grant Scheme, is a doubling of the payment for expanding native woodland through natural regeneration.

This new increased grant rate covers the whole of Scotland and now stands at £600 per hectare.

This action will stimulate further woodland growth and help in the yearly native woodland targets set out in the Bute House Agreement

The grants boost has been made as part of the delivery action plan announced in June which is aimed at ramping up tree planting levels.

Brendan Callaghan, Director of Operational Delivery at Scottish Forestry added: “The Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) is a key driver in boosting tree planting and natural regeneration projects across the country.

“We have listened carefully to the responses in the recent forestry grant consultation and during our regular meetings with stakeholders. As a direct result, we have embarked on the most significant changes to the FGS since it was established in 2015 and plan to keep developing the scheme to support the growth of woodlands in Scotland.”

Scotland has ambitious woodland creation targets which are increasing each year, rising to 18,000 ha by 2024/5. This year so far, over 11,200 ha of forestry schemes have been approved for planting in 2023, exceeding last year’s total.

The Woodland Creation Summit is being held at Battleby in Perthshire on December 12.

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