A public consultation to help shape future forestry grant support in Scotland has opened today.
The consultation aims to seek views on how the current Forestry Grant Scheme can be invigorated and better integrated with other sources of funding, strengthening Net Zero, biodiversity, economic and community wealth building priorities.
Since the scheme started in 2015 it has supported 5,930 projects, creating around 69,000 hectares of new woodland, an area equivalent to the size of East Lothian.
Around half of the current woodland grant applications are for small scale projects, mostly from farmers who are integrating trees into their businesses.
Environment Minister Mairi McAllan is keen to hear from a wide range of stakeholders through the consultation, including farmers who are interested in planting trees.
During a recent visit to Andrew Adamson’s farm at Netherurd, near West Linton, she heard how grants for creating and managing woodland could work better for the agricultural sector.
Ms McAllan said:
“Our forests and woodlands provide multiple benefits for the people, environment and economy of Scotland.
“It is our aim to grow a mix of new woodlands and ensure we get the right trees in the right place and for the right reason.
“It is important that both large and smaller scale projects thrive and continue to contribute to our woodland expansion plans.
“Farmers, crofters and community woodland owners are all very important in achieving our woodland creation targets.
“I was very pleased to find out more about Mr Adamson ’s tree planting and how it is benefiting his livestock and farming business.
“I would encourage all those with an active interest in creating and managing woodlands to feedback their views on future forestry grant support through the consultation.”
Mr Adamson is one of the hosts in the farmer-led Integrating Trees Network.
He has been planting trees for many years and said:
“My message to farmers is that tree planting can really provide many benefits to you farm but you have to know exactly what you want from it.
“It was very useful to meet the Minister and discuss what is needed by farmers and land owners.”
Scottish Forestry is keen to get the views from farmers, crofters, forestry companies, communities, local authorities and a range of other environmental organisations during the consultation period.
The consultation will seek views through a wide range of questions including:
- How can the grants evolve to better tackle the climate emergency?
- How can future grant support address biodiversity loss, including the regeneration and expansion of native woodlands?
- Which measures would help reduce the barriers for farmers and crofters wanting to integrate trees into their business?
- How can the forest regulatory and grant processes evolve to provide greater opportunities for communities to be involved in the development of forestry proposals?
- How could the current funding package be improved to stimulate woodland expansion and better management across a wide range of woodland types, including native and productive woodlands?
To tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss, the Scottish Government is increasing its woodland creation targets year on year, rising to 18,000 ha of new woodland each year by 2024/5.
The public consultation runs for 12 weeks with all views being sought by 17th May 2023