Scottish forestry minister Allan Wilson has unveiled a vision of how woods and forests can improve Ayrshire people’s lives.

Mr Wilson launched the Ayrshire & Arran Woodland Strategy at Kelburn Castle, near Largs, on January 27, with £1.2m worth of Scottish Executive grant backing to encourage woodland planting.

The project aims to establish well-designed woodlands to produce high-quality timber; to plant native and riverbank trees for nature conservation; to grow woods in and around towns to provide attractive settings for recreation; and to restore landscapes damaged by industrial activity.

The Ayrshire Woodlands Locational Premium grants will pay between £800-£2,000/ha to help landowners plant woodlands which achieve the strategy’s goals. This is in addition to monies from the Forestry Commission‘s Scottish Forestry Grants Scheme.

Mr Wilson said: “The development of woodlands offers a broad range of environmental, social and economic benefits. Forestry is important to Ayrshire, with employment in the forestry industry making a valuable contribution to the economy and supporting more than 2,000 local jobs.”

He said there was potential for developing new wood processing plants as the forests mature and timber harvests increase.

The strategy has been drawn up by a number of agencies including the Forestry Commission, local councils, and the forestry and timber industries.