Conifers show strength of Scotland’s forestry industry

The forestry sector is worth �954 million to the economy. Picture: TSPL
The forestry sector is worth �954 million to the economy. Picture: TSPL
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Scotland’s conifer forests are the biggest in the UK, with more than a million hectares of conifer woodland across the country.

There are a wide range of conifer forests north of the border, from Sitka spruce to Scots pine and Douglas fir, providing a source of employment in rural communities as well as a habitat for wildlife.

Scotland’s forestry industry supports 25,000 jobs and contributes some £954 million to the economy, according to figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe).

The one million hectares of conifer woodland across the country far exceed the 490,000 hectares found across England and Wales – with new planting in Scotland also far outstripping the area in the rest of the UK.

A 2015 report on the economic value of the sector found forestry and timber processing is worth £771m, while recreation and tourism contributes a further £183m.

Forestry Commission Scotland said its focus in 2017 would exploring further development of wood fibre products and potential opportunities presented by bio-refining.

A strategy for the sector, Roots for Future Growth, was drawn up in 2011 with the aim of doubling the economic contribution within a generation.

An emphasis on sustainability as part of a wider trend towards a low-carbon economy are central to the plan.

SNP MSP Gail Ross, deputy convener of the Scottish 
Parliament’s rural economy committee, said: “These 
figures show how important conifers are to Scotland’s forestry sector and demonstrate.

“These conifer forests make an important contribution to the rural economy in constituencies like mine, providing local jobs and skills opportunities for young people.

“They also make a vital contribution to meeting our 
ambitious climate change 
targets.”