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Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scotland Rural Development Program 2007- 2020 information on woodland options: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
23 Mar 2021
Scotland Rural Development Program 2007- 2020 information on woodland options: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100152335
Date received: 6 Feb 2021
Date responded: 26 Feb 2021
Information requested

I am writing to request information relating to the take up of Scotland Rural Development Program 2007- 2020 options targeted to improve the conditions of juniper populations as outlined in this document https://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/images/corporate/pdf/junipersrdptechnicalnote.pdf. I have identified the following list of options that I think pertain to juniper and would like to know the number of applicants awarded funding and the total area of land managed under each option for the duration of the program (as an annual summary if possible). My understanding is that it is not possible to identify applications that intended to include juniper in planting mixes or support management of existing populations - is this correct? If it is possible to identify applications that reference juniper under these options then I only require the number / area of applications for this subset of applicants, otherwise I'm happy to receive information pertaining to the options applied as a whole. Please clarify in the response which of the above applicant groups the data refer to.

Response

As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance on some of the areas specific to the request we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exception under the regulation 10(4)(a) (information not held) of the EIRs.

The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained in Annex A to this letter.

Your request is asking for information on woodland options offered under the SRDP programme from 2007-2020. Within this period, grant support to new and existing woodlands have been administered under two Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). The first (2007-2013) was under Rural Development Contracts – Rural Priorities.

Since 2014, Forestry Commission Scotland (now Scottish Forestry), have discrete management of forestry options with the creation of the Forestry Grant Scheme. The suite of options broadly reads across to Rural Priorities and so the options that are relevant to your request and which could offer funding for creating new areas of Juniper tree planting or for managing existing areas of Juniper trees are:

Your assumption is correct in that it is not possible to identify applications that intended to include Juniper in planting mixes or support management of existing Juniper populations. Therefore, we have provided the information below as pertaining to the Forestry Grant Scheme options applied as a whole. However, we have provided hyperlinks to the guidance pages above so that a critique may be applied as to the likelihood of that particular grant option supporting activities to enhance Juniper.

To answer the specific query ‘For the options that pertain to Juniper, I would like to know the number of applicants awarded funding and the total area of land managed under each option for the duration of the program (as an annual summary if possible)’:

Scottish Forestry can only supply this information for the Forestry Grant Scheme (2014-2020). Scottish Forestry collates information on the awarded funding on a running monthly basis using manual input to spreadsheets. Although in plan for future development, we do not have appropriate reporting functionality linked to the IT administrative systems that would help break down the awarded funding information into an annual basis and, so we, unfortunately, cannot easily provide your preferred breakdown of the uptake on an annual basis.

Within approved Forestry Grant Scheme applications, the numbers of approvals for the following options are as follows:

  • Woodland Creation - Native Scots Pine - 103 approvals amounting to 4,076 hectares;
  • Woodland Creation - Native Upland Birch - 160 approvals amounting to 5,207 hectares;
  • Woodland Creation - Native Broadleaves - 544 approvals amounting to 6,969 hectares;
  • Woodland Creation - Native Low Density - 82 approvals amounting to 650 hectares;
  • Woodland Improvement Grant - Habitats and Species (includes natural regeneration) - 104 approvals - of which 44 contained natural regeneration approvals that amounted to 445 hectares of natural regeneration;
  • Woodland Improvement Grant - Restructuring Regeneration - 957 approvals amounting to 27,167 hectares;
  • Sustainable Management of Forests - Native Woodlands- 78 approvals.

We only collect the areas for the Forestry Grant Scheme options that involve tree planting or the natural regeneration of new areas of trees (woodland creation or replanting areas felled of trees under the option ‘Restructuring Regeneration’).

To put the above in context, the overall woodland creation options (that include the 4 subset that could be appropriate for Juniper), for the same period, total 2,025 approvals amounting to 51,528 hectares.

Whilst we cannot provide any mapping information specific to the request, further analysis of this information may be undertaken on the Scottish Forestry map viewer and open data download.

The inclusion of Juniper as a single tree species or the inclusion of managing existing Juniper trees already in a woodland setting is extremely small in relation to the total area of new woodlands that are created and in relation to the management of existing forests and woodlands.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

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