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Cash boost to grow tree nurseries

By David Porter

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Tree nurseries and small forestry businesses are set to benefit from £1.5 million funding so that they can gear up and join in the national effort to plant more trees.

The funding is being channelled through Scottish Forestry’s Harvesting and Processing Grant, which helps with the costs of specialist forestry equipment.

The funding could go towards seed trays, seed storage and sowing equipment, poly tunnels, cold storage facilities and irrigation systems. Adaptations to vehicles, machinery and premises to allow tree nurseries to continue safely under Covid-19 are also supported.

Through an innovative agreement with the UK Government, tree nurseries in England, which supply trees to Scotland, will also be able to apply for the funding.

Fergus Ewing has welcomed the funding for tree growers
Fergus Ewing has welcomed the funding for tree growers

Announcing the financial support, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland has very ambitious tree planting targets which are important to our green recovery and helping us meet our climate change targets.

“To prepare for this increase in planting, we need to increase the capacity of tree nurseries so that they can produce more stock.

"The funding will not only assist Scottish nurseries to gear up but also others in England.

“I’m very pleased to be working with the UK Government on this funding agreement which will help more woodland to be created in Scotland.”

The funding is made up of nearly £1 million from Defra and £500,000 from the Scottish Government.

Tree nurseries are to be the main beneficiaries of this additional funding, however forestry businesses based in Scotland can also apply to get financial support for a range of specialised forestry harvesting and processing equipment.

UK Government Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “I am delighted to announce that we are providing almost £1 million from the Nature for Climate Fund to offer much needed support for this sector, helping to contribute to our UK-wide tree planting ambitions.

“Growing and protecting the UK’s forests is an integral part of our green recovery from coronavirus, as we continue towards our commitment to increase woodland creation across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.

We will continue to work closely to grow nurseries’ capacity and resilience, as we plant new roots to make way for a greener, more sustainable future.”

Welcoming the funding, Stuart Goodall, chief executive of forestry body Confor added: “I strongly welcome this further round of funding from Scottish Government and the UK Government.

“Tree planting and the sustainable production of wood, creates jobs and removes carbon from the atmosphere.

Currently, the Scottish Government aims to plant 12,000 hectares of trees and woodlands annually and this will increase 18,000 hectares per year by 2025. The UK Government’s target is to plant 30,000 hectares a year by 2025.

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