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02/09/20 00:01

Rural role in green recovery

£160 million investment for forestry and agriculture.

Scotland’s rural economy will be at the heart of the green recovery, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said.

An additional £100 million was announced in the Programme for Government for Scottish Forestry to increase new planting, 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 2019-20 was in Scotland and this further investment will increase planting targets to 18,000 hectares per year in 2024-25.

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. The Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) is a pilot and will run for five weeks, offering grants of up to £20,000 for farmers and crofters to purchase new equipment.

Mr 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 hectares 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 wellbeing, 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.”

Background:

PfG 2020-21

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.