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Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere and South Ayrshire Council launch small-scale tree planting grant

GSAB tree planting in the GSA Biosphere 400 x 400

The Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere (GSA Biosphere), in partnership with South Ayrshire Council, has announced the launch of a pilot funding programme for small-scale tree planting projects. Grants worth up to £1,000 are available to individuals and organisations who want to plant trees on less than 0.25ha of land, with eligible projects including small copses, treelines, field boundary trees, parkland trees and orchards.

Supported by funding from South Ayrshire Council the pilot programme will fund up to ten projects this winter (2023-24). Applications will be accepted until Friday 1 March 2024. Up to 100% of material costs such as plants, shelters, tree guards and fencing materials may be funded, with the possibility of funded labour costs as well for non-profit organisations. Hedge planting, tree planting within private gardens, planting on deep peat or over archaeological sites are not eligible under the terms of the programme. 

The GSA Biosphere celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2022, with official confirmation of an expanded boundary earlier this year. The 9,720km² region now includes Alloway - birthplace of Robert Burns - and 12 nautical miles of the marine environment, up to and including Ailsa Craig. Approximately 86% of South Ayrshire lies within the UNESCO-designated area. The Biosphere was a winner at the Ayrshire Business Awards in October and in a landmark accolade was recently announced as having made National Geographic's prestigious Cool List for 2024, naming the region among the most exciting, inspiring, and sustainable travel destinations around the world. 

Antoine Lemaire, the GSA Biosphere's Nature Recovery Officer, is leading the South Ayrshire Tree Planting pilot. Commenting on the initiative, Antoine said, "All 748 UNESCO Biospheres around the world share a remit to promote conservation and nature restoration, and the small-scale tree planting scheme is a fantastic opportunity to enhance the landscape and biodiversity of South Ayrshire. We are especially pleased to be working alongside South Ayrshire Council, one of the GSA Biosphere's core funders, in a programme that has such great potential to bring long term benefits for people and nature."

Councillor Alec Clark, Cabinet Member for Tourism, Culture and Rural Affairs who represents South Ayrshire Council on the UNESCO Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Board said: "There are many small parcels of land across the Biosphere area in South Ayrshire that can benefit from this scheme. Trees can help to transform our landscape and are great for the environment as they absorb carbon dioxide and provide a home for wildlife. I would encourage eligible individuals and groups to apply and help protect South Ayrshire for future generations."

Those interested in the tree planting programme may find more information and application forms at www.gsabiosphere.org.uk or by emailing antoine@gsabiosphere.org.uk