SCOTGOV has announced £500,000 new grant funding to help tree nursery and small scale timber businesses expand.

The grants are intended to help the sector buy new specialised equipment to boost productivity. Businesses can apply for funding to purchase a wide range of equipment, ranging from poly-tunnels and seed trays, to wood finishers and mounding equipment.

The funding is available within the Harvesting and Processing option of the Forestry Grant Scheme, the second year that the grant has been made available to support these activities.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “During my visits and meetings with the forestry sector I’ve always been struck by the passion and innovative business thinking of the industry.

“Many of these businesses are at the smaller end of the scale and vital to the success of our £1billion industry.

“In the last year of this grant we supported 37 projects. I would like to build on this and help more businesses thrive,” said Mr Ewing.

“In response to industry feedback we’ve improved the package available. I would urge forestry businesses to get in touch to find out how this grant can help them grow.”

The grants boost has been developed in consultation between Forestry Commission Scotland, the Associations of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers and Confor’s Nursery Group.

The application round will run til October 30, with funding available in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Up to 40% grant support is available.

For more information, go to https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/forestry-grant-scheme/harvesting-and-processing/