Scottish Forestry has extended its deadline for grant claims by six weeks to give woodland owners the opportunity to get projects finalised.
To maximise the use of this year’s 2023/24 Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) budget and avoid slippage into the following year, the end of the claim year will now be extended to May 17 2024.
This will allow woodland owners extra time to complete their projects, carry out the required paperwork and submit 2023 claims for FGS capital funding.
It comes as Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has announced that next year’s budget for woodland creation has had to be “greatly reduced”.
According to the organisation, keeping up the momentum and getting as many trees in the ground as possible this year and next could help the case to lever in additional funding in future years.
Ms Gougeon said: “By extending the deadline, it will assist woodland owners to complete their projects and carry out the paperwork needed to get their claims in for this planting year.
“Importantly, this action will avoid some slippage of projects rolling into the next financial year and eating into the reduced budget.
“This measure has been discussed with key forestry and rural stakeholders who have indicated their support for extending the end of year claims deadline.”
Scottish Forestry has been meeting Confor and other stakeholders through the Customer Representative Group to discuss how best to support the sector with next year’s budget.
These meetings will continue so that all avenues are explored so that the Forestry Grant Scheme can continue to provide a mix of funding for a variety of projects.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of forestry trade body Confor said: “The extension to the deadline for claiming grant this year is welcome.
“There’s very strong interest in woodland creation and maximising what is funded this year is an important component in satisfying as much of that demand as we can.
“”A strong year will also demonstrate clearly the demand is there and that future funds need to be found to realise the industry’s important contribution to tackling damaging climate change.”