The Scottish Government has launched a £1m grant to encourage farmers and crofters to diversify into forestry production.
The grant is the first to be made available under the £40m Agriculture Transformation Programme.
Launched in February, the programme is designed to support farming and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The money can be used to cover 90% of the cost of creating small-scale woodlands that will capture carbon and provide a source of income for the farm business.
The funding release comes just days after Defra and the devolved regional governments announced a £2m scheme to create more woodland across Scotland.
This second support stream is through the Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant.
Within the £2m total, £500,000 has been earmarked to cover 40% of the cost to Scottish farmers of buying forestry and processing equipment.
The diverse range of equipment includes:
- Seed trays
- Mounding equipment
- Worksite welfare units
- Small-scale sawmills
Initially the funding will provide support as the sector recovers from the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.
A second, longer-term aim is to increase the proportion of woodland planted in the UK with home-grown trees.
Announcing the funding, Scotland’s rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“Forestry has a key role to play in helping the rural economy recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Assisting smaller scale businesses to grow and become more resilient is key to achieving these ambitions, and to maintaining livelihoods and creating more job opportunities in remote rural areas.”
On the longer-term goal of creating more home-grown tree stocks, Mr Ewing said:
“If any of the tree planting ambitions are to be realised in the UK, then we need to be growing more of our own stock. That means increasing nursery capacity here in Scotland, and also across the UK.”
Mr Ewing was alluding to the fact that the grant is also open to tree nurseries in England and Wales which supply stocks to Scottish businesses.
“I am pleased to be working with the UK and Welsh Governments to enable nurseries in England and Wales to also benefit from this grant funding. That will help more woodland to be created here.”
The Scottish Government aims to plant 12,000 hectares of trees and woodlands annually and will increase that to 15,000 hectares a year by 2025. The UK Government’s target is to plant 30,000 hectares a year by 2025.