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).  To find out about other schemes within SRDP please see the Scottish Government SRDP web pages.

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.

The 2021 AECS application round was open from 25 January to 30 June (except for IPA - see below).

Please note that 2021 applications are restricted to the categories listed below and there have been some other changes to the scheme for the 2021 round.  So it is important to read the latest guidance in the AECS website.

  • management of the notified features of designated sites - Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
  • management for corncrakes, corn buntings or farmland waders within certain locations
  • organic conversion and organic maintenance
  • slurry storage
  • Improving Public Access (IPA)

If you are considering an AECS application related to a designated site (SSSI, SPA or SAC) you are strongly advised to contact NatureScot before working up your application.  You can also find details of the designated sites on your land and their notified features using NatureScot's SiteLink website.

Improving Public Access (IPA) was open for application from 1 March to 30 June  2021. There are some changes to IPA in 2021 and you will find updated guidance in March in the AECS website. 

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

NatureScot has four regional SRDP enquiries teams:

North (Highland, Orkney, Shetland)
Telephone (Golspie): 01463 701 608

East (Tayside, Grampian, Forth)
Telephone (Battleby): 01738 444177

South (Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Borders)
Telephone (Dumfries): 01738 458678

West (Argyll, Outer Hebrides)
Telephone (Oban): 0300 244 9360

For queries on IPA, please contact

Regional map for SNH enquiries

Alternatively, view details for your local NatureScot area office.

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

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