TREE nurseries, small forestry businesses and farmers are set to benefit from £2 million of funding from Scottish Forestry to up woodland creation across the country.

The support is part of Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which is intended to help farmers and foresters buy specialist forestry equipment ranging from polytunnel and seed trays to mounding equipment, worksite welfare units and small-scale sawmills for wood processing.

For the first time, through a new agreement with the UK and Welsh Governments, tree nurseries in England and Wales which supply trees to Scotland will also be able to apply for funding.

Announcing the funding, 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. I am also determined to see tree planting increased in Scotland to help meet our climate change targets. 

“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. This funding supports investment by forestry businesses in new specialised equipment to increase capacity, expand the business and sustain employment.

“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, but also across the UK. 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.”

UK Government Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “We know the impacts coronavirus has had on tree nurseries, and I am therefore delighted we are contributing much needed support for this sector.

“Growing and protecting the UK’s forests is an integral part of our green recovery from coronavirus, as we continue towards our commitment to increase tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025. We will continue to work closely to grow nurseries’ capacity and resilience, as we plant new roots to make way for a greener, more sustainable future.”

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs for the Welsh Government, said: “We are very pleased to be part of this cross-governmental scheme – and we are especially pleased that Welsh tree nurseries will, thanks to our involvement and funding, be able to benefit from the scheme.

“As each government across the UK looks to increase its tree stock, this scheme will help us to collaborate where required as we look to hit our individual national planting targets.

“A number of nurseries already supply trees across Great Britain – this partnership effort with other governments will allow us to get an overall view of supply and demand of trees, and ensure there is sufficient capacity for us to meet our target in Wales.”

Welcoming the funding, Stuart Goodall, chief executive of forestry body Confor added: “This is great news, and I welcome Scottish Government’s rapid response to the concerns that Confor has been raising.

“Small businesses and forest nurseries have been hit by the effects of COVID-19, and while there are reasons to be optimistic about the longer term, there is a real need for this support now to help those businesses contribute to a green recovery.

“Tree planting and sustainable production of wood has been one of Scotland’s success stories in recent years and we have the opportunity to help set a robust course towards Net Zero by 2045, creating jobs and removing more carbon from the atmosphere.”

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