Purpose of the Group

To influence the Scottish Government policy framework to ensure appropriate delivery and incentive mechanisms are created to support a network of healthy, resilient rivers and riverbanks across Scotland. 


Current sitting members of the Riverwoods Advocacy Group are:

Alan Wells (Chair), Fisheries Management Scotland

Russ Jobson, Tweed Forum

Simon Ritchie, The Woodland Trust

Rebecca Lewis, Buglife

Chloe Grant, Scottish Wildlife Trust


The Riverwoods Advocacy group serves an advisory role to the wider partnership and works on a recommendation basis, offering guidance to partners with limited capacity for advocacy by highlighting key advocacy opportunities and offering general steer. The views represented in documents produced by the Riverwoods advocacy group are representative of the members of organisations who sit within the group and not the Riverwoods initiative as a whole. 

Riverwoods Advocacy Group Consultation Responses

Read the Full Response Here: FGS Riverwoods Recommendations

Summary of Asks: 

1. Complexity and Support for Plan Production and Forestry Cooperation Fund (FoCo)

Streamline the application process with funding made available via, and integrated with, the FGS (Forestry Grant Scheme) application process for plan preparation and aid towards survey costs.

2. Value for Money Criteria (VFM)

Expand VFM scoring to recognise the wider benefits

3. Tree Planting Densities

Allow lower planting density option/s when environmentally beneficial to do so

4. Targeted Woodland

Implement revised target area mapping and enable minor changes to occur on an ongoing basis to enhance viability of schemes.

5. Enhanced Grant Rate

Offer significantly better uplift grant payments beyond 12.5% as financial incentives for riparian schemes. Remove the 50% eligibility rule to allow any areas within the recognized uplift area to be eligible for uplift payments and the equivalent area out with, if it is a connected native woodland compartment regardless of overall scheme size.

6. Fencing 

Offer greater flexibility on deer fencing uplift grant rates taking into consideration individual scheme restrictions. Enable flexible standard fencing grant rates to address fluctuations in actual capital cost

7. Stock Watering and Water Gates

Make stock watering and water gates an eligible cost under FGS

8. Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) Grazing Anomaly 

A derogation of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) occasional grazing condition to allow trees and riparian edge vegetation to fully establish.

9. Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)

Continue to allow the Basic Payment Scheme to be claimed on areas of land under the Forestry Grant scheme (FGS) or the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) but also on schemes delivered outwith FGS and AECS funding

10. Maximising External/Private Finance

Adjust the administration systems to allow variable FGS grant rates to lever in more private finance and lower cost to the taxpayer

11. Forestry and Water Guidelines

Produce better and more positive guidance to ensure maximum benefit is achieved.
Instruct Forestry Scotland to ensure officers interpret guidelines to obtain maximum benefit for riparian areas.

Read the Full Response Here: Riverwoods SBS Recommendations

Summary of Key Asks:

1. Nature-Based Restoration Targets:

  • Implement SMART criteria for restoration targets and set a specific statutory target for riparian woodland restoration.

2. Programme of Ecosystem Restoration:

  • Ensure a programme of ecosystem restoration avoids creating paper parks, embraces nature networks for connecting landscapes, and acknowledges the importance of supporting new creation.  
  • For maximum cross-habitat benefit, there is a need for the six landscape scale restoration areas to focus on catchments and include significant riparian woodland restoration.

3. Source to Sea

  • Adopt a source to sea approach for freshwater and marine actions

4. River Basin Management Plan (RBMPs)

  • Move beyond procedural compliance to specific environmental results.
  • Increase coherence between RBMP, RLUPs, nature networks, and funding schemes.

5. Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS):

  • Clarify the approach for managing INNS in freshwater landscapes.
  • Commit to long-term catchment scale invasives management funding.

6. Deer Density:

  • Revise deer density targets to a maximum of 5 deer per km² nationally.
  • Prioritize woodland areas in the riparian zone with even lower deer density targets.

7. Protected Areas:

  • Ensure long-term protection of new and existing protected areas.
  • Detail standards for woodland protection within the 30 x 30 areas.

8. Nature Networks:

  • Resource local authorities for designing nature networks with opportunity mapping.
  • Prioritize riparian corridors in land use decision-making.

9. Biodiversity Metrics:

  • Develop a biodiversity metric for Scotland focusing on river catchments.

10. Funding Mechanisms:

  • Clarify the influence of the Agriculture bill on the SBS.
  • Enhance integration between funding and compliance systems.

11. Protected Natural Woodlands:

  • Ensure protection includes native riparian woodland.

12. Diffuse Pollution:

  • Identify nature-based solutions, like riparian woodland planting, as a key action for mitigating diffuse pollution.