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Delivering planting progress

Published: 14 Dec 2016 10:38

Recommendations to improve tree-planting rates.

A report highlighting ways to increase the number of trees planted across Scotland has been published today.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing has welcomed the review from Jim Mackinnon CBE, which examines the forestry industry and the current regulatory barriers to woodland creation in Scotland. The review is part of a broader package of reforms to drive forward forestry’s contribution to the rural economy and to support delivery of climate change targets.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • Streamlining the process to approve sustainable planting schemes, for example by appointing accredited, experienced agents to help certify some woodland planting schemes and by giving FCS local offices more responsibility to approve lower value applications
  • Earlier engagement between tree-planting businesses and communities, in a way that is proportionate to the scale and impact of the planting scheme
  • A dedicated national Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) team to deal with complex proposals including all projects where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required

Commenting on the recommendations, Mr Ewing said:

“Scotland’s forests and woodlands are among our most valuable rural assets and our ambition is for them to expand and flourish. I am determined to reduce the complexity, duration and cost of tree planting applications and that is why we commissioned this detailed analysis.

“I want to thank Jim Mackinnon for all his hard work on the review. I am determined to improve the pace and scale of new sustainable planting to meet our climate change commitment to plant 10,000 hectares per year and to ensure long-term availability of timber. With that in mind I accept in principle all the recommendations made in the report and look forward to FCS setting out early next year a delivery plan for implementing the recommendations. I am very pleased that Jim has agreed to come back and report on implementation when I next meet with forestry stakeholders in the Spring.”

Jim Mackinnon CBE said:

“The sector has engaged enthusiastically with the review and it is heartening to see there is a strong common desire to see the rate of sustainable woodland creation increased significantly.

“I believe the recommendations form the basis of a significantly better approach to accelerating the rate of new planting but it will require greater empowerment of local FCS offices; greater trust, particularly in the proposed accredited forestry professionals; and a more proportionate approach to requests for information and additional studies.”

Background

Analysis of Current Arrangements for the Consideration and Approval of Forestry Planting Proposals http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Rural/Forestry/JimMackinnonreport 

This report delivers a 2016-17 Programme for Government commitment to announce actions to speed up and streamline approval processes for sustainable planting schemes.

In 2015-16 around 83% of woodland planting in the UK took place in Scotland.

Mr Mackinnon conducted the review over a 3-month period and met over 200 forestry stakeholders and Forestry Commission staff during that time.