Enormous cuts to the woodland grant budget will torpedo Scotland’s chances of meeting climate and nature targets, Confor and Woodland Trust Scotland said today.

The timber industry body and woodland conservation charity teamed up to condemn proposals for a massive 41% cut in the money available to support woodland creation and management through the Forestry Grant Scheme.

Following last month’s budget announcement by Finance Secretary Shona Robison MSP, Scottish Forestry is facing a cut of more than £32 million from its grant budget.

Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO, stated:

"The Scottish Government has increased its woodland creation targets annually as a key element of Scotland's commitment to be net zero by 2045, and we applaud that ambition. The amount of new woodland created has fallen over each of the last five years, however. This proposed cut will only serve to make the gap between targets and delivery ever wider. A bad situation will become worse."

Confor and Woodland Trust Scotland understand that over 14,000 hectares of new woodland creation has been approved for the current year, and that the reduced funding in the budget for 2024/25 will support only around 9,000 hectares (the grass pitch at Murrayfield Stadium is about one hectare).

In recent years there has been significant investment by the public, private and charitable sectors in people, young trees and equipment, and a cut of the scale proposed will lead to job losses in struggling rural areas, the destruction of millions of young trees and a blow to sector confidence that will take a long time to recover.

Alastair Seaman, Director of Woodland Trust Scotland, said:

"The Scottish Government must remember that warm words won’t stop climate change or restore nature. We need investment in new woodland – and fast – if we are to have any hope of a strong economy and a healthy landscape in the years to come.

"Creating new woodland and protecting what we’ve already got is one of the simplest and most effective responses we have to the climate and nature crises. It makes no sense to pull the rug out from under the sector in this way.

"On behalf of the thousands of members from both organisations who are committed to increasing planting in Scotland, we are calling on members of the Rural Affairs Committee to recommend to the Cabinet Secretary that these proposed cuts are reversed."

For further information contact George Anderson on 07770 700631.

Notes to editors

New woodland planting figures and targets per planting season:


Target: 10,000 ha
Actual planted area:
7,140 ha


Target: 10,000 ha
Actual planted area: 
11,210 ha


Target: 12,000 ha
Actual planted area: 
10,860 ha


Target: 12,000 ha
Actual planted area: 
10,660 ha


Target: 13,500 ha
Actual planted area: 
10,480 ha


Target: 15,000 ha
Actual planted area: 
8,190 ha

On 12 December 2023, it was announced that a modern-day record of 13,100 ha of planting had been approved for the 2023–2024 planting period.

The budget announced on 19 December 2023 saw funding for woodland creation in 2024/25 cut by 41% from the current year. In a subsequent article, Cabinet Secretary Mairi Gougeon MSP advised that the funding allocation of £39.2m for woodland creation (out of a total budget of £45.4m) would "help create over 9,000 hectares of new woodland."

About the Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  1. protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restore damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

About Confor

Confor is the organisation representing over 1,500 members from the whole forestry and wood supply chain. Representing businesses of all sizes across the UK, they are the voice of the forestry sector.