The aim is to build on the success of the previous Forestry Grant Scheme and seek views on its evolution and how it can improve the delivery of the Scottish Government’s priorities for Net Zero, biodiversity, community wealth building and the economy.
The scheme is managed by Scottish Forestry and has been in existence since 2015. It has funded more than 4500 projects, creating around 68,000 hectares of new woodland, an area equivalent to the size of East Lothian.
The announcement came as Environment Minister Mairi McAllan opened a forestry debate in the Scottish Parliament in advance of her visit to COP27. During the debate, the Minister also signalled that a number of enhancements to the current grants scheme are to be put in place by Spring next year.
Ms McAllan said: “Our forests and woodlands are key to these actions as they make multiple and significant contributions to Net Zero and in tackling nature loss, as well as supporting a vibrant forest sector.
“We are leading the way on woodland creation with nearly 80% of all new woodlands within the UK being created right here in Scotland. We have ambitious targets to expand our forests further, creating 18,000 hectares of new woodland each year by 2024/5. In doing this I am keen to ensure that we get the right tree in the right place and improve community engagement in the process.”
In order to provide continuity to applicants, farmers and land managers wanting to plant trees, the powers Ministers rely on to run the forestry grant scheme will in the future come from the Scottish Agricultural Bill, which is going through the Scottish Parliament next year. The 12-week consultation is planned to start in January.
As part of the last Programme for Government published in September, a commitment was made to enhance parts of the current Forestry Grants Scheme in a shorter time frame. These will include a new riparian woodland grant, more support and advice for farmers wishing to integrate trees into their businesses and a package of measures to improve public engagement in woodland creation applications.