Call to 'commit to woodland expansion' in forestry bill

18 August 2017

Confor has called on the Scottish Government to include an ambition for woodland expansion in new forestry legislation.

The Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill, which will complete the full devolution of forestry to Scotland, is expected to be become law in 2018.


After consulting Scottish members, Confor submitted a paper to the Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee, ahead of the committee's next evidence session on Stage 1 of the Bill.


Confor stressed that the Bill should go further than just set out how Scotland’s forests will be regulated, and include a commitment to woodland expansion. This would send a positive signal to Scotland's £1 billion forestry and timber sector, and make clear the Government’s commitment to meeting climate change targets.

The Confor evidence said: "The need for more tree planting is the biggest forestry-related issue facing Scotland. There is cross-party support for increased afforestation, and planting trees is at the heart of forestry’s contribution to help meeting Scotland’s world-leading climate change targets.

"Due to historic deforestation, tree cover in Scotland is only 18 per cent, barely half the European average of 36 per cent. A long-term commitment to woodland expansion will help fulfil climate obligations, meet future timber demands, and provide ecosystem resilience in the face of multiple environmental threats."

The paper also stresses the importance of the productive capacity of the publicly-owned National Forest Estate and says that Scottish ministers "must maintain or increase the timber supply and productive capacity" from the NFE.

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, said: "Our paper makes a number of points - on retention of professional staff, compulsory purchase, definition of tree felling and the precise meaning of sustainable forest management. However, what came through most strongly in consulting with our membership was the need to put woodland expansion at the heart of the new Bill.

"By raising targets for both tree planting and the use of home-grown timber [in January 2017] the Scottish Government displayed very clearly its ambition for the forestry and timber industry. Enshrining that commitment in the new Bill is a natural next step."

Read the submission by Confor and other organisations and individuals here