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Land owners and managers across the Northern Isles are urged to take advantage of a new Scottish Government grant that aims to boost efforts to expand native woodland cover.
Supporting the Shetland and Orkney woodland strategies, the new grant is available through the Rural Development Contracts element of SRDP. It has been developed with the support of local partners led by the Orkney Woodland Project and Shetland Amenity Trust.
John Risby, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Highlands and Islands Conservator said:
“Work has been going on for over ten years to protect and expand the woodland cover across the Northern Isles, with a lot of effort going in to securing and gathering seed and cuttings from the remnant native woods and trees on the islands.
"The recent Native Woodland Survey of Scotland showed the Orkney isles had only 35ha of native woodland….and Shetland only 3ha! Helping to establish more trees will not only offer variety in the landscape but it will also increase biodiversity, and offer some shelter to people and to livestock.
“There was substantial local interest in establishing woodland on the islands but this waned when the old Locational Premium was closed. The levels of grant support available through SRDP were insufficient to cover the high costs of establishing woodland on the Northern Isles.
“This new grant corrects that and, together with the specialist advice and assistance available in site assessment and silviculture practice, we are looking forward to seeing interest in woodland creation revitalised in the Northern Isles.”
The new Woodland Creation Option requires planting of predominately native species at 3000 (minimum) stems per hectare and over an area greater that 0.25 hectares. There is a presumption against planting areas of deep peat and applications are restricted to a maximum of 1ha per applicant.
James Mackenzie Shetland Amenity Trust said:
“We are delighted to see this enhanced support for planting new native woodlands, which will build on the work of communities, land managers and the previous grant schemes and give all land owners and managers across the islands the chance to help raise our levels of woodland cover. Trees of suitable provenance grown by Shetland Amenity Trust are available through Shetland growers and nurseries.”
The Orkney Woodland Group and Shetland Amenity Trust are working closely with FCS to promote uptake and assist in appraisal of potential planting sites. Anyone interested in planting a new woodland should contact Jenny Taylor on email@example.com 01856 811231 or James Mackenzie on firstname.lastname@example.org 01595 694688.
Jenny Taylor Orkney Woodland Project added:
“We are delighted to see this enhanced support for planting new native woodlands, which will build on the work of communities, land managers and the previous grant schemes and give all land owners and managers across the islands the chance to help raise our levels of woodland cover.
"The Orkney Woodland Project annual open day and tree sale will be held at the St Magnus Centre on 17th March and anyone interested can drop by and get more information on tree planting and these new grants.”
Applications for planting under the new model would be assessed by Forestry Commission Scotland.
For more information on the Woodland Creation Option (Northern and Western Isles Native Woodland option), visit www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/farmingrural/SRDP/RuralPriorities
Notes to Editors
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate managing the 660,000 hectare national forest estate in ways that continue to protect, manage and expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands in a way which helps in the fight against climate change. The Commission also provides grant funding and advice to landowners on planting and managing woodlands. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
2) Considerable research and experience has been gathered to develop best practice silviculture for establishing new woodlands on the isles. Key is dealing with the affects of exposure, which makes site selection critical. Once a site has been selected careful use of native species form of appropriate origin and hardy non-natives with high stocking densities is required to ensure establishment.
3) Orkney Woodland Project is a part-time project funded by the Forestry Commission and Orkney Islands Council