Pivotal year will provide vibrant future for forestry

Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, has said that conditions for growth and success in the forestry and timber sector have “never been better”.

The message comes in a pivotal year as forestry becomes fully devolved to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking at this year’s Confor dinner, Mr Ewing announced a range of measures by the Scottish Government to invest in the future of forestry to help boost further growth in the sector.

Measures include:  

  • Providing £7 million for timber transport projects across Scotland – up from £2.85 million in 2016;
  • Investing £20 million on replanting across the National Forest Estate by Forestry and Land Scotland, which will also guarantee the supply of around a third of all timber supplied in Scotland;
  • Building and upgrading 200 km of forest roads on the National Forest Estate to allow better access to the timber – equivalent to the distance from Edinburgh to Aviemore;
  • Investing £7 million in deer management on the National Forest Estate to protect trees and the environment.

Mr Ewing said:

“2019 is a pivotal year as we are celebrating 100 years of public forestry. At the same time, we are introducing the foundations for the next 100 years through full devolution of forestry, new legislation and the creation of two new agencies.

“We are entering a new chapter in forestry and my ambitions are stronger than ever, as is my commitment to working with the sector.

“The Scottish Government is making a huge investment in the future of forestry, because we all have a stake in the future benefits that flow from these trees; be they as resources for manufacturers, inspiring classrooms for our children or as massive carbon stores.

“Planting more trees and growing our forests and woodlands must be a shared national endeavour. Forestry businesses are key to achieving our ambitions – I hope they too will do all they can to invest in forestry’s future in the coming year and beyond. ”

During his speech, Mr Ewing also highlighted the sector’s contribution and the work of the Industry Leadership Group’s ambitious target to double economic growth to £2 billion a year by 2030.

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of the forestry and wood trade body Confor, said:

“Scotland’s forestry industry has come a long way in the last 100 years and the future is an exciting one. We have an updated Forestry Strategy, new government agencies for Scotland and a maturing industry worth £1 billion annually to our economy and providing more than 25,000 green jobs.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s efforts to help secure future wood supply, including from the national forest estate which is an important timber supplier now and in the future.

“The forestry industry has the potential to play a greater role partnering with government in realising the opportunities for further growth, including delivering on Scotland’s climate change ambitions by planting more trees and using more wood in construction”

Tim Liddon, Forestry Director at Tilhill Forestry said:

“The support for the forest industry from the Scottish Government is second to none and we welcome the substantial investment being made towards its future. It is appropriate to celebrate the past 100 years which not only has seen numerous changes but laid down the resource that we are now harvesting and remodelling in order to be fit for the next generation. More must be done to further improve on the delivery of new woodland creation. The MacKinnon Report reinvigorated our thoughts. We must now harvest the energy created to work closer together to bring about smarter solutions and professional delivery.”