£6.5m backs 3,000 acres of new woodland

Plans to plant almost 3,000 acres of new woodland across Scotland have been backed with £6.5 million in funding, the Scottish Government said.

At over twice the amount awarded in any previous month, this is the highest level of funding awarded since Scotland’s Forestry Grant Scheme was set up in 2015.

Forest in Scotland has grown to be a £1 billion industry which supports at least 25,000 jobs.

The new plantings include a large native woodland scheme in Knoydart and conifer schemes in Perthshire, Argyll and the Scottish Borders.

About 83% of woodland planting in the UK currently takes place in Scotland.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing made the announcement at the Scottish Government’s second forestry summit at Boat of Garten, near Aviemore.

Ewing said: “This is an important moment for the £1 billion forestry sector in Scotland as we have recently launched a consultation on plans to complete its devolution.

“This will safeguard the future of one of Scotland’s most precious assets, which supports at least 25,000 jobs and plays a pivotal role in tackling climate change among many other benefits.

“To generate further growth we need to get more trees in the ground.

“This latest grant funding is a significant government investment towards this goal, and I am pleased to see that the rate of new planting proposals has increased, though funding is, of course, only part of the story.

“We want to speed up and streamline approval processes for sustainable planting schemes.

“New woodland creation will help strengthen forestry’s contribution to our rural economy as well as helping to meet our climate change targets.”

Scottish Ministers currently determine strategy and policy for forestry in Scotland but the management of forestry — including management of the Scottish Ministers’ National Forest Estate — has remained with the Forestry Commissioners, a UK Non-Ministerial Department and, since devolution, a cross-border public authority.