Sharing the cash will be projects including upgrades of fragile rural roads, creation of new forest haulage routes and promotion of the movement of timber by sea.
The funding is through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is part funded by Transport Scotland and managed by Scottish Forestry.
In this year’s projects, stretches of local A,B,C class and Unclassified roads will be upgraded, and forest routes added to access sea transport or direct timber traffic away from communities. Upgrades to roads can include improving drainage systems, strengthening or upgrading surfaces, improving bridges, widening corners or adding traffic calming measures. Passing places can also be added, making it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network.
Scottish Forestry said that the investment will help the sector to grow and recover from the pandemic and that is seen as a confidence boost during a very difficult period.
Some of the key projects include:
£900,000 towards TimberLink, which moves around 100,000 tonnes of timber by sea from Argyll to Ayrshire reducing ‘timber miles’ and the number of lorries using the A82 over the Rest & be Thankful;
£340,000 to Stirling Council to improve passing places in east Loch Lomond where timber traffic shares the road with high visitor numbers; and
£2.2m to a range of road improvements in the Highlands where much of the timber traffic is on minor roads.
Minister for environment, biodiversity and land reform Màiri McAllan said: “A green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is imperative and, as part of that, we are committed to supporting our forestry sector given its role in our transition to net zero. The sector also provides thousands of jobs and generates around £1 billion to our economy each year.
“By improving our timber transport network we can help the industry get its timber to market and ensure economic benefits continue. It will also reduce the effects that timber lorries can have on small local communities.”
In the last five years, the Scottish Government has invested about £41m through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund into over 200 timber transport projects, helping over 55 million tonnes of timber get to market.