Plans to plant 2,965 acres (1,200 ha) of new woodland across Scotland have been backed with £6.5m in funding.

The figure is the highest level of funding awarded since the Scotland's Forestry Grant Scheme was set up in 2015, the Scottish government said.

The planting projects to receive funding include schemes in Knoydart, Perthshire, Argyll and the Borders.

Rural Affairs Secretary Fergus Ewing announced the funding during a visit to a sawmill in Boat of Garten.

Mr Ewing held talks with industry leaders at the site near Aviemore as part of a series of summits on the future of forestry.

'Important moment'

He said: "Today's forestry event in Boat of Garten is about listening to the industry as part of my focus on building growth in our rural economy.

"This is an important moment for the £1bn forestry sector in Scotland as we have recently launched a consultation on plans to complete its devolution.

"This will safeguard the future of one of Scotland's most precious assets, which supports at least 25,000 jobs and plays a pivotal role in tackling climate change among many other benefits."

He added: "To generate further growth we need to get more trees in the ground.

"This latest grant funding is a significant government investment towards this goal, and I am pleased to see that the rate of new planting proposals has increased, though funding is, of course, only part of the story.

"We want to speed up and streamline approval processes for sustainable planting schemes. New woodland creation will help strengthen forestry's contribution to our rural economy as well as helping to meet our climate change targets."

Spike in applications

The forestry and wood processing industry is worth more than £1bn a year to Scotland.

However, concerns have been raised for the future if more plantations are not created now.

Mr Ewing was meeting industry chiefs as part of a number of summits he has held around the country listening to those involved in forestry and wood processing.

The Scottish government said forestry formed part of its efforts to develop Scotland's rural economy.

It is understood there has been a recent spike in applications for government grants for new plantings.

About 25,000 jobs are dependent on forestry and the creation of timber products in Scotland, but there have been warnings that the growth in the sector is the result of planting during the 1970s and 1980s.

Industry leaders have said there has to be continued encouragement for landowners and managers to put more trees in the ground now if the industry is to have a sustainable future.

Source: BBC

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