9 Nov 2022

Refresh of Forestry Grant Scheme planned

A public consultation on future grant support for forestry is to take place early next year.  

The aim is to build on the success of the 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 Forestry Grant Scheme is managed by Scottish Forestry and has been in existence since 2015. It has funded over 4,500 projects, creating around 68,000 hectares of new woodland, an area equivalent to size of East Lothian. 

The announcement of the forthcoming consultation 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: “The debate is timely, coming just as world leaders are meeting for COP27 to deliver actions for people and the planet.

“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.

“I want to see the Forestry Grant Scheme evolve by building on the current approach and successes and by invigorating the support that is provided.

“A strengthened grants scheme will better support the forest industries by ensuring future timber supplies. It will also improve our environment, work better for our communities and ensure integration with all other land use sectors.”

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. This will allow the Forestry Grant Scheme to remain open for applications through this period, and provide the scope for further improvements and changes in the future.

The consultation on future grant support for forestry is planned to start next January and will last for 12 weeks.

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 new enhancements 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 new woodland creation applications.

The forestry debate in the Scottish Parliament, which was closed by Biodiversity Minister Lorna Slater, is taking place as world leaders meet at COP27. The debate acknowledges the essential contribution that trees, woods and forest make in tackling climate change and nature loss.

Last year at COP26 in Glasgow, world leaders announced the ‘Declaration on Forests and Land Use, pledging a commitment to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

Both the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Ms McAllan are attending COP27 which is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.