RURAL Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has hailed the news that Scotland is on track to meet its yearly tree-planting targets as a “remarkable achievement”.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Scottish Forestry’s staff are said to have been working at a record rate – approving applications for over 13,000 ha of new woodland for this year.

The yearly planting targets were increased to 12,000 ha last year and will rise to 18,000 ha in 2024/25.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This really is a remarkable achievement by all those concerned and I would like to pay tribute to everyone working in the sector – public and private – who are out there right now, working hard to deliver our planting targets.

“In a year of unprecedented adversity – with COVID-19, Brexit and heavy, persistent snow at the beginning of this year – this is such positive news.

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“And this is not all down to the large forestry companies. We have had significant interest from smaller woodland owners, farmers and crofters who are planting almost 200 of the 320 woodland creation schemes we are funding this year.

“There are 13,000 hectares of projects approved this financial year, and over 6,000 hectares for next year already approved. It’s great news that we are on track to deliver on our planting target.”

In recognition of the difficulties caused by this winter’s snow, as well as COVID-19, Scottish Forestry is offering increased flexibility to allow Forestry Grant Scheme claimants to maximise planting.

Claims submitted to Scottish Forestry by the end of March have a further period of two months until the end of May to submit supporting documents and evidence.

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