A SCOTTISH charity has unveiled next stage of a pilot scheme which aims to establish one million trees across the country, with the potential to lock off 235,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2080.

Announcing the new phase of its £2 million Future Woodlands Fund, Future Woodlands Scotland hopes to make it easier for Scottish farmers to plant trees, and to reduce barriers to native woodland creation with free advice and financial incentives.

Working alongside the Scottish Government Forest Grant Scheme and the Woodland Carbon Code, the three-year scheme is guided by the principles of mitigating and adapting to climate change, protecting Scottish ecosystems, and collaborating to deliver social benefits.

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In addition to establishing new native woodland, the Future Woodlands Fund also seeks to restore "ghost woodlands" – degraded former native woodlands around Scotland which nevertheless have high ecological value. This follows the Future Woodland Scotland’s delivery of over 5000 hectares of new native Scottish Woodland through the Scottish Forest Alliance between 2000-2011.

The next stage of the scheme – which can be applied for by any farmer or land manager in Scotland until November 2023, provided their application covers between three and 100 hectares and meets the criteria – has increased its annual payments option to £3500 per hectare over 20 years, to provide extra incentive for woodland creation.

The fund’s financial backing has been provided by the energy company BP.

Future Woodlands Scotland chair Tim Hall commented: “Interest in native woodland regeneration is increasing but many farmers and land managers still worry about the upfront costs of planting woodlands. Providing them with a range of options will mean they can choose what’s best for their business.

“This will be good for both farming and wildlife, while helping Scotland meet its biodiversity and climate commitments. I urge anyone thinking about creating native woodland to apply today.”