GRANT rates in Scotland's crofting counties will be increased to support the planting of new native woodlands. 

Scottish Forestry chiefs are boosting their Forestry Grant Scheme by £840 per hectare, taking it to £7,560/ha over a five-year period. 

Available for small woodland projects up to three ha, all crofters throughout the crofting counties - including Arran and Orkney - are eligible to apply.

Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan said: “The Scottish Government has ambitious woodland creation targets, rising to 18,000 ha each year by 2024/5. 

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"These targets have been set so that we can tackle climate change and reverse the decline of nature.

“We need everyone to participate in woodland creation. Both large and small projects are all very important in achieving our goals.

“These enhanced grant rates for the crofting counties should help ensure crofters, who are faced with challenging conditions for growing trees, can reap the many benefits of planting native woodlands.

“I am particularly pleased that this move includes the Northern and Western Isles, Argyll Islands and Arran, where I know there is increasing interest in woodland creation.”

Forestry Journal: Màiri McAllan announced the move today Màiri McAllan announced the move today

Welcoming the increase in grant funding, Iona Hyde from Woodland Trust Scotland and project manager of the Croft Woodlands Project, added: “The increasing costs of materials and labour particularly affects small schemes in the more remote areas of the crofting counties, where woodland creation often brings the most benefits."