Land management bill ‘backs £1bn forestry sector’

Forestry is the 'engine-room' of the rural economy, according to trade body Confor. Picture: Neil Hanna

Forestry is the 'engine-room' of the rural economy, according to trade body Confor. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Scotland’s £1 billion forestry sector, which supports 25,000 jobs, will benefit from the modern approach to forestry development, support and regulation included in the new Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill, it has been claimed.

Proposing the first tranche of forestry legislation since the Scottish Parliament was set up, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing yesterday said that a modernised legislative framework would help support and regulate the sector in Scotland.

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He said that in addition to the bill, the Scottish Government was set to create a new executive agency, Forestry and Land Scotland, and a dedicated government forestry division.

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Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the industry body Confor, said the first new major forestry legislation in Scotland for 50 years had to secure the long-term future of an industry – and had to commit to future tree planting targets.

“Forestry is the modern-day engine-room of the Scottish rural economy, and Scotland is the powerhouse of the UK forestry sector,” he said.

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“Changes to the governance of forestry have been inevitable since devolution, especially as there has been change elsewhere in the UK. The aim in Scotland must be to put in place a legislative framework that suits forestry here.”

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And although the new bill, unlike the 1967 one which it would replace, did not place a duty on the Scottish Government to expand forestry in Scotland, Goodall said: “We were pleased when the Scottish Government committed, in January, to increasing tree planting targets to tackle climate change and increase the use of home-grown timber – and we look forward to seeing it follow through on that commitment.”

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