Scottish Parliament highlights importance of forestry

27 May 2016

Confor's proposals to grow Scotland’s £1 billion forestry and timber sector have been included in two influential briefings summarising major issues for the new term of the Scottish Parliament.

The five-point action plan outlined in the Confor manifesto, Forestry and Timber: Growing a Resilient Scotland, is included in the Rural Affairs: Subject Profile report by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe). 

The two key points - driving up tree planting rates and making the grants system and applications process simpler to encourage more woodland creation schemes - have already been included in the SNP manifesto. Confor has pledged to work constructively with Fergus Ewing, the new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, to deliver these manifesto commitments. 

The significance of increasing tree planting is also included in the Climate Change: Subject Profile report by SPICe. It lists several areas compatible with Scotland’s ambitious climate goals, which include planting 16,000 hectares of land with trees each year. 

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, said: “We are delighted to see Confor’s manifesto included in the Rural Affairs briefing. This demonstrates Confor’s leadership role in the sector very clearly. Our manifesto set out to explain the need to plant more trees, and the wide range of benefits which could follow, in a very straightforward way. 

“We are delighted the SNP manifesto and now the SPICe briefing has picked up on our policy priorities and we look forward to working with Fergus Ewing and his colleagues to deliver new planting.” 

As well as new planting and an effective, quick applications process, The Rural Affairs SPICe report also lists Confor’s demands to:

  • Replant forests cut down to supply timber (in addition to new planting)
  • Increase the use of home-grown wood in housebuilding and construction, drawing on innovation and technology in timber use
  • Continue to support sustainable timber transport in rural Scotland through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund.

Mr Goodall welcomed the high profile for forestry and timber - and the recognition of the economic, environmental and social benefits it can deliver. 

He said of the inclusion of higher planting rates in the Climate Change briefing: “Nicola Sturgeon has made climate change a top priority in her new programme for government - setting an even more challenging target to reduce emissions. Tree planting is highlighted as a central plank of the plan to achieve those new targets and we will work constructively with the First Minister and her Cabinet Secretaries to show that forestry and the use of timber in construction has a significant part to play in the Scottish Government’s climate change agenda.”