Global challenges: from Ghana to Galloway

23 June 2017

Planting large-scale forests creates the same challenges across the globe - whether they are planted in Ghana or Galloway, Confor's Chief Executive told an international gathering at Edinburgh Castle.

Stuart Goodall told a New Generation Plantations 2017 reception that communication of the modern forestry story, and dialogue between different countries, was crucial. "We are seeking to engage constructively with NGOs but need to get their attention for long enough to explain, engage and communicate what modern forestry looks like," he said.

Mr Goodall facilitated a discussion between three foresters involved in modern-day plantations, from Brazil, Portugal and Uruguay - in the city where New Generation Plantations was founded a decade ago. "Those involved in planting large-scale forestry face the same challenges, whether they are planting in Ghana or Galloway," he said.

Asked by Mr Goodall whether the New Generation Plantations programme had been good for business, Paula Guimaraes from Navigator / Portucel, a Portugese company which is planting in Mozambique, said:

"We all bear the 'bad label' of making plantations and need to bring a new meaning to the word. Being part of NGP has given us new insights - we have different geography and different climates, but the same challenges. Being part of NGP means we are part of a living organism, always trying to learn more and develop more."

Ivan Grela, who works for UPM in Uruguay said: 

"Large plantations can be good for biodiversity, for soil and for water, and it easier to have these discussions [through the NGP]. We meet people with different experience on the ground, with a different view of the same situation and have open discussions."

Estevao Braga from Suzano in Brazil said:

"Our country has a great reputation for bad plantations. We learn from sharing lessons and successes - as a group of businesses and civil societies, we can make things better. NGP creates the environment to share concerns and discuss how to overcome barriers."

He added: "For every one hectare of plantation, we have another one hectare planted for the environment. We need to tell the story of [modern] plantations and their future. We need more and more wood and need it to come from places which do have sustainable forest management." 

After the event, Stuart Goodall said: "We all know wood is a fantastic material and we all know we need to grow more - by exchanging best practice and ideas about how we help the economy, engage communities and deliver environmental benefit." 

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity in Scotland, told the reception:

"In Scotland, we are making a difference by planting the right trees in the right place. Forestry is growing in Scotland and the potential is terrific. These islands are ideally suited to growing trees. It is terrific for the economy, but also for the environment. 

"We have a great industry in Scotland, with sophisticated modern sawmilling businesses using technology and innovation. Who would want to build new houses out of brick when you can build them out of timber?"