Confor: Forestry can play major role in world summits

Confor has called for forestry to play a more significant part in global environmental summits - as the world seeks a binding climate change agreement in Paris.

Technical Director Andrew Heald, writing in The Scotsman, said: "UK forestry hasn't had a significant role in discussions on climate change or carbon storage. However, the UK is the third largest net global importer of timber and has woodland cover of only 12 per cent (one-third the EU average), so there is huge potential to do more."

Mr Heald welcomed the commitment by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the recent World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh, which attracted 500 delegates from almost 50 countries (including Mr Heald) to reaffirm the Scottish Government's commitment to plant 100,000 hectares of woodland by 2022. He said this was "a challenging, but very achievable target".

Forestry and timber processing was the ultimate carbon capture and storage industry, said Mr Heald, who continued: "If we can expand our woodland cover, environmental and economic benefits can go hand in hand.

"The economic potential of enhanced tree-planting was highlighted via the amazing statistic [last week] that direct employment in forestry and wood processing in Scotland rose by 50 per cent in the five-year period from 2008 to almost 20,000 direct jobs - during an economic downturn when other sectors were losing jobs.

"And unlike other sectors, additional economic activity delivers enhanced environmental benefits - through the carbon capture and storage process."

He concluded: "If we can make the obvious connections between climate change mitigation, an urgent need for more homes and a growing demand for sustainable timber, the potential for UK forestry is huge."

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