Projects to help improve Scotland’s timber transport network have been awarded £7 million from the Scottish Government.
Forestry is included under Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 Route Map, which allows outdoor work such as forestry to fully restart its operations.
The awards are drawn from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund which is managed by Scottish Forestry. Projects are co-financed and mostly include improvements to minor rural roads and promote the transport of timber by sea.
Funding has been awarded to projects in Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, Argyll & Bute, Highland, Perth & Kinross, Lanarkshire, Stirling and the Scottish Borders.
Announcing the funding, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Tourism said:
“Forestry is an important part of the rural sector, generating £1 billion to the Scottish economy each year and supporting 25,000 jobs.
“Forestry will have a very important role to play as we start a careful and considered restart of key industries. We need to ensure that the infrastructure is there to support the industry on a number of fronts and assisting with getting timber to market is one of them.
“Getting these important timber supplies out to market relies on a good transport network and this funding will help ensure this is in place to allow a long-term sustainable forest industry.”
Over the past 14 years, nearly £60 million of Scottish Government Strategic Timber Transport Funding has helped deliver around 280 projects.
Most of the work involves upgrades to minor rural roads but also promotes the movement of timber by sea. This vital work helps keep timber supplies moving but also reduces timber lorry miles and therefore reduces impacts on small rural communities.
Currently, the forest industry is carrying out essential work through the COVID-19 outbreak. Timber is being used to produce key products such as pallets and packaging which are needed to transport food supplies and pharmacueticals.
Stuart Goodall, CEO of CONFOR added:
“This is a fantastic boost for Scotland’s forestry sector as we seek to recover from the harsh impacts of COVID-19. This welcome and very significant investment not only provides vital support to help the sector continue to grow, it also provides a real confidence boost at a difficult time.
“These are challenging times for everyone, and I’d like to pay testament to the support that Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing continues to provide to the sector. This is an industry that supports many thousands of rural jobs and contributes to tackling climate change as well as supplying essential products for the fight against COVID-19. Our partnership with Government helps us achieve more than we otherwise would be able to.”