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 out all Rural Payments and Services on 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 on the Scottish Government website.

2022 round

The opening and closing dates for applications have been announced and details can be found on the Scottish Government website.  The scheme guidance will be updated before the round opens for applications.  If you are considering a 2022 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

There will also be further rounds in 2023 and 2024.  (See the Scottish Government news page 'Creating a fairer, greener nation' on 27 October 2021.) 

2021 round

This closed in July and was restricted to the following categories.

  • management 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.
  • organic conversion, organic maintenance and slurry storage
  • Improving Public Access (IPA)

Improving Public Access (IPA) is part of the AECS scheme.  There were some changes to IPA in 2021 and updated guidance was published in March.

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
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

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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