If the Scottish Government wants to hit its target of creating 10,000 hectares of new tree planting every year up until 2022, then it will need to speed up the approval of new woodland applications.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the forest industry body Confor supported the Scottish Government’s planting ambitions but said if their targets were to be met, “We need to get everything working better, whether it’s new computer systems now or the process of approving new planting schemes in future.”
The Government target of an additional 100,000 hectares of woodland was announced in 2012 with a target of meeting that by planting 10,000 hectares annually.
But Goodall revealed that in the three years since the First Minister had promised the additional land under trees, the target had not been met.
“Confor calculates that we now need around 13,000 hectares a year to hit the target by 2022.”
He added the area to be planted needed to include 8 to 9,000 hectares annually of productive conifer species. These are the softwoods which supply the timber needed by Scotland’s wood processing businesses. “They (sawmillers) are investing around £50 million a year, but need to know that the long-term supply of wood is guaranteed.”
A recent Forestry Commission Scotland report showed forestry and wood processing was worth £1 billion to Scotland’s economy and had created thousands of new jobs through the economic downturn.
Goodall said this success was largely down to historic planting and that momentum had to be maintained to secure jobs and investment.