National Forest Land Scheme (NFLS)

Land for communities and affordable housing

National Forest Land is the forests, woods, open land and other property owned by Scottish ministers on behalf of the nation, and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.

The National Forest Land Scheme gives community organisations, recognised non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and/or appropriate housing bodies the opportunity to buy or lease National Forest Land where they can provide increased public benefits.



NFLS Guidance Booklet (PDF 32k)

Printed copies of the guidance can be ordered from our publications library.

See also: Guidance on holding a ballot as part of an NFLS application (PDF 32k).

A model articles of association that may be of use to NFLS applicants is provided by Community Assets (HIE)


Community Renewables

For applicants looking to take forward a renewable energy scheme see this additional guidance (PDF 84k).

NFLS progress

  • Since the launch of the scheme in 2005 a number of community organisations, housing bodies and Non-Governmental Organisations have successfully bought land under the scheme. The NFLS Progress Report (PDF 1.2Mb) describes those projects in more detail.
  • The map of NFLS schemes (PDF 522KB) shows where each of the NFLS projects is located.
  • The applications status table (PDF 55KB) details information on all of the NFLS applications that have been approved or the applicants that have bought or leased areas of land under the scheme.

NFLS case studies

Three case studies have been produced describing the development of local projects on land bought from FCS under the NFLS:

What the scheme covers

Community Acquisition by purchase or lease:

Community Acquisition gives communities the opportunity to buy or lease National Forest Land where they can provide increased public benefits.

Land for Woodland Crofts:

Land for woodland crofts gives communities the opportunity to buy National Forest Land in order to create woodland crofts, subject to delivery of public benefits.

Read more about woodland crofts.

Land for Affordable Housing:

Land for Affordable Housing allows Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) and other housing bodies to buy National Forest Land to provide affordable housing.

Sponsored Sale of Surplus Land:

The Sponsored Sale of Surplus Land gives communities and others the opportunity to buy National Forest Land which is surplus to requirements. Surplus land is land that makes little net contribution to Forestry Commission Scotland’s public policy objectives.

Community leasing for forestry purposes:

Community organisations can now lease national forest land for forestry purposes. This broadens the existing leasing option, which was only available for non-forestry purposes such as managing recreation facilities.

Read more about community leasing for forestry purposes.

Community renewables:

Local communities can approach Forestry Commission Scotland directly about leasing or acquiring land for community scale developments under the National Forest Land Scheme.