Scottish government announces £160 million investment for forestry and agriculture

The Scottish government has announced an additional £160 million for forestry and agriculture in its latest Programme for Government.

The money includes £100 million for planting for Scottish Forestry, alongside £30 million to Forestry and Land Scotland to expand national forests and land.

A further £20 million has also been allocated to increase the supply of young trees.

Over 80% of all new woodland creation across the UK in 2019-2020 was in Scotland and this further investment will increase planting targets to 18,000ha/year in 2024-2025.

Ensuring farmers and crofters can also play a key role in a green recovery, a new £10 million fund will open for applications later this month.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “We are determined to build back better after coronavirus (Covid-19) with a green recovery, and Scotland’s rural economy will be at the heart of this.

“Having created more than 22,000 ha of new woodland in the last two years, we are continuing to invest in nature-based solutions to climate change.

The forestry sector makes a huge contribution to the rural economy – over £1 billion Gross Value Added and 25,000 jobs.

“This demonstrates the scale of activity in Scotland’s forests and the potential for making a significant contribution to the green recovery.

“Forestry is not only an important natural resource, it provides spaces to improve personal health and well-being, and an ambitious programme of planting can contribute towards Scotland’s net-zero commitments.

“We know farmers and crofters want to contribute to our climate change ambitions and to cut their emissions and farm more sustainably. Helping them to change their practice by ensuring they have access to the right equipment, tools and knowledge is key. The new £10 million Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme will provide support to do this.

“These investments will also help support and create jobs and opportunities across the rural economy, including in remote and island communities.”

The SACGS is part of the Agriculture Transformation Programme, which has already dedicated £1 million to help farmers and crofters diversify into forestry and help with the fight against climate change.
Further information on eligibility and how to apply to SACGS will be published here shortly.

‘An increasingly important diversified income stream’

NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “For a significant number of NFU Scotland members, forestry has become an increasingly important diversified income stream. The availability of increased funds for planting will allow more farmers and crofters to identify if investment in trees is the right business decision for them.

“The £10 million Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme will assist farmers and crofters with 50% grant rates (60% in the Highlands and Islands) towards expenditure on equipment that will reduce emissions and improve productivity.

“Significant capital investment in agricultural businesses is required if Scottish agriculture is to be a catalyst for the Scottish Government’s ambitions around green growth.

While we await detail on the type of investment that will qualify, it is a pilot with potential to help cut emissions on-farm while improving the bottom line of the business.

“It chimes completely with the principles we outlined in our policy vision ‘Steps to Change’ of the requirement for a ring-fenced capital budget, over and above mainstream income support of Pillar1, to drive step-change on farms and crofts in reducing our carbon footprint.”