Scottish Forestry is offering loans to cover 50% of the initial costs associated with creating a new small-scale woodland scheme – including buying trees, ground preparation works or fencing – through the new Small Woodlands Loan Scheme.
The agency said the loan scheme, which works alongside its existing Forestry Grant Scheme, was designed to remove any cash flow barriers to farmers and crofters considering planting trees on their land.
Both the grant and loan schemes are designed to support projects up to 20 hectares (49.5 acres) in size.
Launching the loan scheme, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said there was significant interest in tree planting from smaller woodland owners, farmers and crofters.
He said almost 200 of the 320 woodland creation schemes currently being funded by Scottish Forestry are smaller projects.
“I have listened carefully to feedback which has suggested that many smaller-scale land managers are worried about the upfront costs in getting trees in the ground,” added Mr Ewing.
“The new Small Woodlands Loan Scheme aims to help remedy this and give a helping hand to assist with the costs of starting a woodland project.”
He said the Scottish Government was on track to meet its target of planting 12,000 hectares of new forestry and woodland this year.
“This new funding arrangement should give further confidence to the smaller businesses who want to get trees in the ground and help us deliver future planting targets,” added Mr Ewing.
The scheme was welcomed by Scottish Crofting Federation chairman, Donald MacKinnon, who described it as a “very practical measure”.
He said: “A grant is generous, but can be impossible to utilise without up-front funding.
“It is gratifying to see this element included in the woodland scheme, which crofters are keen to use. Crofters want to plant trees and contribute to the national targets that will help alleviate climate change. This will go a long way to helping that happen.”
Full details of the new loan scheme, which is linked directly to the capital grant operations element in a Forestry Grant Scheme project, are online at forestry.gov.scot