New Scottish Forestry Bill passed

21 March 2018

The devolution of forestry to Scotland has been completed after the Scottish Parliament passed the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, made the following statement after the Bill was passed:

“Confor has always supported the Forestry Bill as it modernises the legislative framework for forestry, which is now more than 50 years old. We are pleased that the Scottish Parliament has given its backing to this new legislation without division - and enshrined the creation of woodland and tree-planting targets as part of a new forestry strategy.

“Confor has engaged in detail with the legislative process from the very beginning, providing written and oral evidence on a number of occasions. The priority has always been to support the further growth of the sector - worth £1 billion annually to the Scottish economy and supporting 25,000 jobs - and to deliver environmental and social, as well as economic, benefits.

“I am pleased that our insistence on ensuring forestry expertise under the new devolved arrangements was taken on board - including the creation of a role of Chief Forester, which Confor suggested - and it will be a priority to follow this through.

“However, in the course of Stage 3 of the Bill, a surprising number of new amendments to the legislation were presented, some of which, like the proposal for a single agency, gave us cause for real concern.

“It remains unclear what the full effect of some of these amendments will be, and so we will need to consider carefully what this means before commenting in detail on the new arrangements approved by Parliament.

“Throughout the Bill process, we have received assurance from all parties that they recognise the importance of Scotland’s forestry and wood-processing industry, which is welcome, and  MSPs have repeatedly shown an understanding of its importance as a rural land use in Scotland.  We will now seek to work constructively with Scottish Government and Parliament to implement the new Bill so that this vital sector can continue to grow and make a continuing important contribution to Scottish society.”

Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, described the new legislation as "an historic occasion" in Scotland's devolution journey. Read his article in The Scotsman here and the BBC Scotland story on the Bill here