In recognition of the responses received during this year's Forestry Grant Scheme Consultation, and feedback from regular meetings with Stakeholders, Scottish Forestry has introduced a range of new measures to attempt to bring tree planting levels back in line with Scotland’s ambitious planting targets.
A delivery action plan was announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon earlier this year, and includes;
- Investment of £1 million into training for Scottish Forestry staff over the next two years to speed up the woodland creation application process.
- Creation of specialist teams to help deal with the more complex stages of the Forestry Grant Scheme approvals process.
- Increase in grant rates and eligibility for riparian planting within Scotland.
- Increase in grant rates for smaller scale woodland projects.
- Improved advice and information for farmers to encourage integrated woodland creation on farms.
- Refreshed community engagement guidance within the woodland creation application process.
On top of the new riparian planting target area created earlier this year which identifies approximately 175,000 hectares of riparian land across Scotland eligible for higher grant rate support, new measures were announced in December to tackle inflationary price rises and boost grant support. These new measures include:
- An extra £750 per hectare for the first 40 hectares of woodland creation in most parts of Scotland *
- Extension of the high-cost deer fencing grant rate from previous target areas to cover all of Scotland, equating to a £2.30 per metre increase for many areas (all areas now receive funded support of £9.90 per metre for eligible deer fencing)
- Reduced minimum specification for small or farm woodlands to simplify farm or croft woodland creations up to 10 ha- this change removes the requirement to plant a minimum of 20% of the area as productive broadleaves under this option, allowing farmers and crofters to now design their schemes using diverse conifer, native broadleaves and open ground, which is simpler and potentially better suited to the land/objectives being targeted within this option.
- Sheep and Trees option which funds woodland creation and the creation of forestry/farm road accesses, now expanded into the Central Scotland Green Network area **
- Tripling the grant funding for manual or mechanical bracken control from £225 to £720 per hectare.
- Doubling of payment for expansion of native woodland through natural regeneration across Scotland, now standing at £600 per hectare.
Scottish Forestry has recognised that not all woodland creation projects will benefit from these new changes, and work is ongoing to continue the development of further grant scheme enhancements.
* this increase applies to all woodland creation options except native Scots pine, Native Low Density and native broadleaves in the Northern and Western Isles. The payment is capped at the first 40ha of planting
** Farmers within the Central Scotland Green Network area (Core, Outer Core and Fringe area) who are planting between 10 and 50 hectares of productive woodland will now be eligible for support towards forest road access to help with future forestry and farm management. This support will now be available for farmers planting productive woodlands throughout Scotland.
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