TWO projects aiming to improve timber transport in the Borders have received major cash boosts.

Scottish Forestry awarded £341,000 to improve two key haulage routes, making way for around 1.3 million tonnes of timber to be safely moved over the next decade.

The B709 from Innerleithen to Colqhuar will be strengthened and upgraded, with passing places added.

On the B6357, at Saughtree Grain, resurfacing works will be carried out to increase the road’s ability to transport timber to market.

The grants are from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), which pays a contribution to the full costs of the projects. The remainder will be paid for by Scottish Borders Council.

Announcing the funding boost, rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “Scotland’s forests and woodlands are a powerhouse in providing economic growth for the country. Around £1 billion is currently generated every year and the forest industries support 25,000 jobs, many of which are in rural parts of Scotland.

“With around seven million tonnes of timber being produced each year by our forests, I’m keen to support the sector get their timber to market safely and reduce any disruption to communities.

“I’m also keen to promote ways which can help decarbonise the way timber is moved and look for new solutions in transporting timber in a way that lessens the impacts on the environment.”

The funding is part of a £2 million Scotland-wide timber transport boost where a number of other projects across the country have received funding.

The key aim of the STTF money is to improve timber transport networks, while reducing impacts from lorries on communities and the environment.

Dr William Clark, Scottish Forestry’s forest transport & innovation advisor, said: “The Strategic Timber Transport Scheme has transcended its original aims.

“Whilst still delivering its core benefits of reducing the impacts of timber haulage on Scotland’s communities, it has also become a focal point for innovation and collaboration across a diverse range of stakeholders.

“Local authorities, forest industry businesses, communities, various agencies and government are all working together on this towards the common goal of a sustainable future.“

Around £86 million of support for timber transport projects across Scotland has been invested over the past 25 years.