Planting new trees can protect £1 billion Scottish industry and 25,000 jobs

Planting new trees in Scotland could help secure the future of a £1 billion industry and 25,000 jobs, a leading industry figure has claimed.
Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, promoting forestry and wood, represents more than 600 forestry and wood-using businesses in Scotland, was speaking after the publication today of the stage one report on the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill by Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity (REC) Committee.
Mr Goodall said: ‘This report is a good start but more needs to be done to ensure the new legislation secures the future of the forestry and timber sector, which is worth £1 billion to Scotland’s economy and employs more than 25,000 people.
‘I welcome the report’s recognition of the importance of securing future wood production – but I am disappointed that this vital issue is to be left for consideration by future forestry strategies without any recognition of its importance in the Bill.’ 
Mr Goodall said Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing and the REC committee recognise the vital importance of wood supply, but there were no guarantees that future strategies, or politicians, would do so.
‘Wood supply underpins jobs and investment in our rural areas, and confidence in future supply is crucial to maintain jobs and investment and to deliver broader benefits for our health and environment.
‘The Bill should say that all future strategies should formally assess future wood supply and how that can be secured.’

Scotland’s forestry is a £1 billion industry

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: ‘We recognise the importance of future wood supply to the forestry sector in Scotland and will consider Confor’s proposal as part of our consideration of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s report on the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

‘The Scottish Government will continue to work constructively and collaboratively across Parliament and with stakeholders to complete the devolution of forestry and to establish a modern statutory framework for a sector that is at the heart of our rural economy.’

Mr Goodall added: “I’m pleased that the committee has responded to our concerns about maintaining forestry expertise in any new structure, and suggested a chief forester to reinforce this. It is also important that the Scottish Government commits to protecting forestry expertise at the local level.
‘I also welcome recognition that funds from forest land sales by national agency Forest Enterprise should be reinvested back into forestry, but again, I am disappointed that there is no explicit recognition of the need to protect the large wood resource currently in the stewardship of Scottish Ministers.’
There will be a parliamentary debate on the stage one report by November 10, and if approved, the Bill will move onto stage two, with final legislation expected in spring 2018.