Native woodland creation in the Highlands is to get a boost with an additional £400 per hectare grant support to encourage new planting in suitable areas.
Announcing the new money, Rural Affairs Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “The forestry sector and the many benefits it brings is so important to a vibrant Scotland. It is a £1 billion success story that draws investment to rural Scotland, that is a key contributor to our climate change targets and that supports rural jobs and the economy.
“We have made good progress but we must keep innovating to do more,” he said. “We have increased our long-term planting targets in a series of steps, from 10,000 hectares to 15,000 hectares per year by 2025. To achieve this, we need land owners and managers to plant a mixture of woodland types right across Scotland, so we need our grants to reflect this variety.
“This increased grant rate for more remote areas will make native woodland creation more attractive on a wide range of sites and is a clear sign of the government’s commitment to modern sustainable forestry. It will provide the impetus and opportunity for farmers and other land managers to plant more trees.”
The areas eligible for the increased grant support include those identified as preferred for planting across the Highland Council area. Additional grant support will also be available for work such as bracken clearing and fencing.
Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said: “This is another significant announcement from Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing, demonstrating the Scottish Government’s commitment to Scotland’s successful forestry sector.
“Employment in forestry has grown by 50% since 2008, and it can be a driver of further rural employment across the whole of Scotland. I welcome this additional support for tree planting as a means to delivering the government’s ambitious and important planting targets.”
Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans added: “New native woodland needs as much help as it can get in the more remote parts of the Highlands.
“So, we are delighted that yet again the Scottish Government is demonstrating their very real commitment to growing a Scotland rich in woods and trees. This increased grant rate specifically for native woodland will be invaluable for enhancing and protecting nature in the heart of the Highlands.”