National Forest Land Scheme (NFLS)

National Forest Land is forest, woods, open land and other property owned by Scottish ministers on the nation's behalf, and managed by us.

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

Community Empowerment Act (2015) and changes to NFLS

You will not be able to apply to the NFLS after July 11 2016.

The Community Empowerment Act (2015) means new guidance for the sale or lease of National Forest Estate land to community bodies.

This will be available from Forest Enterprise Scotland once the Asset Transfer Regulations come into force later in 2016. After this, current National Forest Land Scheme guidance will be obsolete.

For more information contact:

Forest Enterprise Scotland
Head Office
Inverness Business Park
1 Highlander Way

NFLS guidance



NFLS guidance booklet (PDF 32KB)

You can order a printed copy from our publications library.

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

A model articles of association for NFLS applicants is given by Community Assets (HIE)


Community Renewables

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

NFLS progress

NFLS case studies

These case studies show 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 chance 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 chance to buy National Forest Land in order to create woodland crofts, subject to delivery of public benefits.

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.