Scottish Forestry is increasing its Forestry Grant Scheme rates in the crofting counties to support the planting of new native woodlands.
Small native woodlands deliver many benefits for biodiversity, the landscape, and provide shelter for livestock and buildings.
Costs of planting and protecting these woods are often high.
This woodland creation option and new target area recognise this.
The new enhanced rates will promote new small native woodlands that are up to three hectares in size.
All crofters throughout the crofting counties are eligible to apply.
Announcing the new funding, Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan said:
“The Scottish Government has ambitious woodland creation targets, rising to 18,000 ha each year by 2024/5.
“These targets have been set so that we can tackle climate change and reverse the decline of nature.
“We need everyone to participate in woodland creation.
“Both large and small projects are all very important in achieving our goals.
“These enhanced grant rates for the crofting counties should help ensure crofters, who are faced with challenging conditions for growing trees, can reap the many benefits of planting native woodlands.
“I am particularly pleased that this move includes the Northern and Western Isles, Argyll Islands and Arran, where I know there is increasing interest in woodland creation.”
The new rates for native woodland planting in the crofting counties will see rates rise by £840 per hectare to £7,560 per hectare over a five year period.
Welcoming the increase in grant funding, Iona Hyde from Woodland Trust Scotland and project manager of the Croft Woodlands Project added:
“The increasing costs of materials and labour particularly affects small schemes in the more remote areas of the crofting counties, where woodland creation often brings the most benefits.
“This additional assistance will help to encourage more small-scale planting, bringing benefits to crofters and crofting communities such as shelter for livestock, crops and buildings; sustainable sources of firewood; shelter and food for wildlife and improved amenity.”
The Croft Woodlands Project offers free advice and support for crofters and smallholders wishing to plant trees.
Welcoming the increase in grant funding, chief executive of the Scottish Crofting Federation, Patrick Krause, said:
“Crofters have long been involved in the creation of woodlands, but it is getting more costly to do this at a time when appropriate tree planting is more important than ever.
“It is very encouraging that Scottish Forestry ha recognised this by increasing its Forestry Grant Scheme rates in the crofting counties to help.
“We urge all crofters to consider the benefits of a small native woodland on the croft.
“Many small woodlands make a lot of woodland!”
The new target area is available for the Native Broadleaves in the Northern and Western Isles woodland creation option and can be viewed here.
Scottish Forestry also has a Small Woodland Loan Scheme which allows applicants to get a loan for up to half of the initial capital grant associated with establishing a new woodland.