HM Insights

Natural Capital bulletin April 2021: rural property briefs

Peatland restoration fund open for applications

The Peatland ACTION Fund is open for applications. Farmers, landowners and land managers across Scotland can now access a £22 million fund to undertake peatland restoration projects.

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The funding from Scottish Government primarily supports on-the-ground peatland restoration activities. Building on the work undertaken to date, Peatland ACTION are now also looking to fund large-scale projects over multiple years, for which they will, where appropriate, make multi-year offers.

Applications can be made up to 30 September through NatureScot and are open to all landowners or land managers.

Scotland is on track to meet tree planting targets

Scottish Forestry has announced that Scotland is on track to meet its yearly tree planting targets. This has been hailed as a "remarkable achievement" by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing given the difficulties of the past year.

Applications for over 13,000 hectares of new woodland were approved this year and it is now down to foresters, farmers and land managers to get their projects planted and make claims by the 31 March 2021 deadline to make this a record year for tree planting in Scotland.

Almost 200 of the 320 woodland creation schemes being funded this year are being planted by smaller woodland owners, farmers and crofters and although all of their Forestry Grant Scheme Claims will still need to be submitted to Scottish Forestry by the end of March, some flexibility has been allowed for supporting documents and evidence to be submitted. An extension to the end of May is intended to allow projects to continue planting up until the end of March and then have two further months to complete site surveys, mapping and prepare the documents needed to support claims.

The yearly planting target was increased to 12,000 hectares last year and will rise to 18,000 hectares in 2024/25. Over 6,000 hectares has already been approved for next year.

Small Woodlands Loan Scheme

A new Small Woodlands Loan Scheme aimed at supporting small scale woodland creation projects was launched by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing on 16 March.

Under the scheme, half of the upfront costs associated with planting new woodland, including buying trees, ground preparation or fencing, can now be paid in advance by Scottish Forestry. The aim is to remove any cash flow barriers that crofters, farmers, or any other small woodland owner might have when considering tree planting in woodland creation projects up to 20 hectares in size.

The 50 per cent advance payment is directly linked to the ‘capital grant operations’ which each individual applicant will have detailed in their Forestry Grant Scheme Contract and will  be provided once the applicant has an approved Forestry Grant Scheme woodland creation contract and associated Loan Agreement in place.

Useful links

Natural Capital

CLIMATE CHANGE

Rural Economy

ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES