PLANS TO plant 1200 hectares of new woodland across Scotland have been backed with £6.5 million in funding under Scotland’s Forestry Grant Scheme.

At over twice the amount awarded in any previous month, this is the highest level of funding awarded since the scheme was set up in 2015, as land owners prepare for spring planting in 2017.

Projects range from a large native woodland scheme in Knoydart, to productive conifer schemes in Perthshire, Argyll and the border hills.

Rural Economy Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing announced the funding boost at the Scottish Government’s second forestry summit, held in Boat of Garten, near Aviemore: “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," added Mr Ewing. "New woodland creation will help strengthen forestry’s contribution to our rural economy as well as helping to meet our climate change targets.”

Since the new FGS came into operation in October last year, over £34 million has been approved for a range of woodland projects, including 5467ha of woodland creation. Currently around 83% of woodland planting in the UK takes place in Scotland.

Mr Ewing has commissioned Jim MacKinnon to undertake an analysis of the forestry planting process in Scotland. The analysis aims to identify actions that could be taken to reduce the duration, complexity and cost of tree planting applications.