Increased 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 target area recognise this.
The enhanced rates, first announced in April 2022, promote new small native woodlands that are up to three hectares in size. All crofters throughout the crofting counties are eligible to apply.
When announcing the funding, Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan said:
“The Scottish Government has ambitious woodland creation targets, rising to 18,000ha 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 affect 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 have 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:
Woodland Creation (ruralpayments.org)
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.
Small woodlands qualify as Ecological Focus Areas
Small areas of woodland classed as Ecological Focus Areas on farms can attract funding supporting sustainable agriculture. Small woodlands approved under the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) since 2015, can be utilised as Ecological Focus Areas to support farmers’ Greening payments.
Scottish Government and Scottish Forestry officials worked with stakeholders including NFUS on how changes to legislation could be introduced. Hopefully this will encourage farmers, crofters and land managers to increase tree planting, providing environmental benefits including tackling climate change and nature loss.
Forestry in Scotland is a real success story and this legislative change will mean that tree planting in small areas becomes an attractive option for farmers and crofters.
This move continues the strong progress towards achieving tree planting targets by working closely with farmers, forest industries and landowners of all sizes and encourages stakeholders to explore the multiple benefits of integrating trees into their farm business.
Funding for specialist adviser to help with woodland creation
Scottish farmers and crofters can apply for up to £1,000 funding through the Farm Advisory Service (FAS) to enlist the help of a specialist adviser to help with woodland creation. The adviser will work with the land manager to add value to underproductive land by reviewing farm-specific opportunities and financial incentives available to create or manage woodland. This includes identifying the most suitable grants and assistance packages that farmers and crofters can use to optimise the use and value of their land.
To apply or for more information, call 0300 323 0161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a fantastic opportunity for land mangers across Scotland who are interested in woodland creation. Through the funding, farmers can receive professional advice and discuss the farm’s objectives around creating new woodlands.
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