5 Oct 2023

Future grant support for forestry consultation analysis published

The analysis from the recent consultation on the future of forestry grant support has revealed broad support for keeping the Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) as a stand-alone funding mechanism.

Around 200 responses were received through the consultation which ran during the Spring of this year.

The consultation sought responses on how the current FGS could be evolved and strengthened to support Net Zero, biodiversity, economic and community wealth building priorities.

Some key findings include:

  • a consensus that the Forestry Grant Scheme should remain as discrete scheme:
  • that most respondents believe the FGS should help ensure woodlands are more resilient;
  • changes should be made to deliver better complementarity with agriculture;
  • grant rates should keep pace with inflation; and
  • a more simplified process for applying for smaller projects is needed.

Chairing the National Forestry Stakeholder meeting today (Oct 5th), Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon, welcomed the findings. She said:

“Our forests and woodlands are very important to Scotland in that they provide a range of benefits to the environment, economy and to our communities.

“The Forestry Grant Scheme is a key catalyst for increasing woodland cover and as a scheme it needs to evolve so that it is working well and delivering on our priorities.

“The analysis has demonstrated a range of interesting findings. There is support for the FGS as a grant mechanism in its own right but stakeholders also wish to ensure it integrates better with agriculture.

“The feedback also highlights that the grants should keep pace with inflation. I know this is affecting some woodland creation projects, particularly smaller schemes. 

“I have asked Scottish Forestry to look at the scope to introduce some changes to the FGS to increasing the grant rate available for most smaller schemes. We will confirm the changes and arrangements shortly.

“This action will also support the new measures I recently announced to boost tree planting across Scotland.

“I’d like to thank the farming, forestry, environmental and community groups for all taking part in the consultation and providing us with very valuable feedback.”

Scottish Forestry will use the consultation results, along with other information gathering, as a valuable contribution to the evolution of the Forestry Grant Scheme.

To date, the scheme has supported 1,500 different woodland creation projects totalling 77,000 ha of new woodland in Scotland since the FGS began back in 2015.

The Forestry Grant Scheme is a key mechanism for helping the Scottish Government reach its annual woodland creation targets, which are rising every year to 18,000 ha a year by 2024/25.

Scottish Forestry has approved 11,200 ha of new woodland planting this year so far, with more expected in the pipeline.

The full analysis of the Future of Forestry Grant support consultation is available here

The responses to the consultation are also available to view on the Scottish Forestry website.