Forestry Commission Scotland has today announced changes to Rural Priorities grant funding that aim to boost more planting of productive forests.
In the context of concerns of the future stability of timber supply due to the fact that the majority of current planting activity (75%) has been undertaken under the Native Woodland planting option in Rural Priorities, FCS have announced changes that they hope will encourage more productive forestry, the sort that will yield a future timber harvest capable of sustaining and expanding Scotland’s forestry industry.
James Simpson, Head of Delivery & Regions, Forestry Commission Scotland said: “The Scottish Government’s Rationale for Woodland Expansion suggested that about 60% of new woodland would be productive and 40% would be native. However, we are in a situation where 75% of new planting is native woodland and we need to balance this out further. Scotland’s forestry sector is a mainstay of our rural economy and sustaining that – and helping it to develop and take advantage of new opportunities – is vitally important. By helping to get more commercial planting underway, this move will ensure the long-term vitality and viability of a thriving and competitive industry.”
The main changes include:
• limiting Farmland Premium associated with Native Woodland planting option (but not the other options) to 50 ha per application; and
• proposals for the Central Scotland Mixed Woodland Option to be limited to a maximum area between 20 to 45 ha.
The changes will apply to all planting proposals that have not yet been formally submitted.
For more information and detail on the changes visit http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-8J9H8A
Doug McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates said: "It is clear that recent planting has been heavily driven by policy and payment rates and this move by the Forestry Commission is a sensible one that seeks to try and find an appropriate balance. We want to encourage native woodland planting, but we also need to ensure a continuity of supply for our timber industry, so we have to occasionally alter the support mechanisms so that they deliver the outcomes we want to see.
"While this move is welcome we must not lose sight of some of the other blockages in the system. Delivering forestry support through the SRDP, which is essentially an agricultural support mechanism, has itself created some of the problems we face today. While it looks like we will be stuck in this regime going forward, we will continue to fight for changes that streamline the system and encourage more planting to meet our national planting targets".