Easier Planting for Crofters

By Reporter, The HighLand Times, Monday February 12 2018

Crofters and small holders across Scotland will now find it easier to get help to plant small woodlands thanks to a simplified grant application form.

As well as an easier-to-complete form and a more flexible range of options on what they can plant, crofters will have ongoing access to professional advice to help them make the right choices for their croft woodland.

The importance of hazelwoods in crofting areas has also been recognised.

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Woodland Trust Scotland (WTS) have worked together to review the grant scheme.

Carol Evans, Director WTS said;

“Since we set up our Croft Woodland Advisory Team we have found there is a great appetite for woodland creation amongst crofters.

“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Forestry Commission Scotland to tailor a system better suited to the sector.

“This should encourage many more crofts to create woodland.

“Croft woodlands have some special benefits to deliver in terms of shelter and biodiversity.

“The increased flexibility in the grant options will help with planting on exposed sites, and will support the expansion of one of our most special coastal habitats, the Atlantic hazelwoods.”

Giving small schemes a greater chance of success is down to receiving good, professional, technical advice, so FCS will continue to support the WTS Croft Woodland Advisors covering the Highlands and Islands who will guide crofters through the woodland creation process.

John Risby, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Highland & Islands Conservator, added;

“There is considerable opportunity for establishing new woodlands in the crofting counties.

“Working with Woodland Trust Scotland to provide greater support, and simplify access to grant funding means interested crofters and small-holders will now find it easier to get trees in the ground and realise their aspirations.”

Woodland establishment and management is increasingly popular providing shelter for livestock and buildings together with a source of fuel.

The changes made are a simplified operational plan for small native woodlands.

Higher rates of grant, previously only available in the Western Isles and Northern Isles, are being extended to the Inner Hebrides and to mainland crofting counties where similar conditions to the Western & Northern Islands are found.

Hazel is particularly suited for many crofting areas in the west coast and for grant purposes hazel has been reclassified from a shrub to a tree for these areas, so enabling more planting of Hazel on sites where it would be naturally dominant.

 

 

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