Scottish Rural Development Programme

Funding for rural Scotland is available through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP)

The main priorities of SRDP are to:

  • enhance the rural economy
  • support agricultural and forestry businesses
  • protect and enhance the natural environment
  • address the impacts of climate change
  • support rural communities

The Scottish Government delivers SRDP in partnership with other public bodies, including NatureScot.

The two key schemes within SRDP to manage for biodiversity and climate change are the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) and the Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS).  You can find details of all SRDP schemes in the Rural Payments and Services section of the Scottish Government website.

Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS)

AECS promotes land management that protects and enhances Scotland’s natural heritage, improves water quality, manages flood risk, and helps us to mitigate and adapt to climate change.  AECS also supports access projects, under the Improving Public Access (IPA) option.  You can find full details in the AECS section of the Scottish Government website.

AECS 2024 round

The opening and closing dates for applications can be found on the AECS website. The scheme guidance has been updated for the 2024 round. If you are considering a 2024 AECS application related to a designated site (SSSI, SPA or SAC) or peatland restoration, you are strongly advised to contact NatureScot before you start working up your application. If you wish to apply for deer management, you must seek advice from a NatureScot Wildlife Management Officer by 30 April. Please send enquiries to one of the regional SRDP mailboxes listed below. You can also find details of the designated sites on your land and their notified features using NatureScot's SiteLink.

Please note that the Improving Public Access (IPA) element of AECS is not open for applications in 2024. 

You can find information on evaluation and monitoring of AECS in this web page.

Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS)

FGS supports the sustainable management of existing woodlands and the creation of new woodlands. FGS also offers funding for access projects in woodland, as part of the Woodland Improvement Grant – Woods In and Around Towns WIAT.

How to get help or advice on SRDP (including AECS)

NatureScot has four regional SRDP enquiries teams:

North (Highland, Orkney, Shetland)
Telephone (Golspie): 01463 701 608
Email: mailto:[email protected]

East (Tayside, Grampian, Forth)
Telephone (Battleby): 01738 444177
Email: mailto:[email protected]

South (Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Borders)
Telephone (Dumfries): 01738 458678
Email: mailto:[email protected]

West (Argyll, Outer Hebrides)
Telephone (Oban): 0300 244 9360
Email: mailto:[email protected]

For queries on IPA, please contact [email protected]

Regional map for SNH enquiries

You can also raise queries with your local Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division (SGRPID) enquiries team.

For queries about forestry and SRDP, contact your local Scottish Forestry office.

Previous SRDP schemes

AECS and FGS replaced the two 2007–2013 SRDP schemes below:

  • Rural Development Contracts – Rural Priorities scheme (RDC-RP)
  • Rural Development Contracts – Land Managers Options scheme (LMO)

Any existing contracts under these schemes will continue until their expiry date.

Find out more

Land and sea management

Last updated: