Momentum on creating woodlands continues after summit

Woodland owners, forestry companies, farmers and other landowners are being urged to keep up the momentum and continue getting trees in the ground during this planting season.

The call comes as Scottish Forestry shares a summary of the main discussions points from last December’s forestry summit with participants and the wider sector.

At the summit, a record number of 13,111 ha worth of woodland creation scheme approvals were announced. New figures reveal that Scottish Forestry has now approved 13,823 ha.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said, “The summit was extremely useful in that it identified a number of themes which both government and the various sectors can work collectively on to improve woodland creation levels.

“I know many in the forest industries are disappointed about next year’s budget. There is no doubt difficult decisions have had to be made but I want to keep discussing how we get the best out of the available funding and use it to achieve as much planting and woodland creation as possible.

“There is no shortage of funding available in the current year and arguably it is even more important to turn these record approvals into record planting. We know we have the grant monies available now, let’s make sure we pay these out and get these trees in the ground.”

The December forestry summit undertook a number of workshops to explore barriers and opportunities to delivering increased woodland creation.

Some common themes raised included:

  • The need for a more streamlined woodland creation process, guidance on further information to support applications and criteria for applications being returned for further work
  • Clarity on timeframes for all parties involved in the application process
  • Clearer and fewer policy priorities and improved vision for future forests
  • Using a wider range of woodland and silvicultural models to create resilient forests
  • Better policy integration between forestry and farming
  • More joint working and public/private training across the sector and better communication across all parts of the industry
  • Managing deer numbers to lower levels, targeted intervention and political leadership to use powers that exist to support landscape-scale control

The summary note detailing the key points raised at the Woodland Creation Summit is available on the Scottish Forestry website.

Alan Hampson, Head of Policy at Scottish Forestry added, “We are taking the feedback from the summit to work up options to improve woodland creation rates and this will include developing a route map so that we have a clear direction that we can collectively work from.

“In addition to this, the senior team in Scottish Forestry has been in meetings with Confor to explore ways to maximise the best use of the tough budget settlement that is forecast for next year. This will be an on-going process so that we can support the industry as best we can.”

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