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Scottish Forestry Strategy statement launched at Royal Highland Show

Last year many Trust members and supporters wrote to MSPs and to the Scottish Government in support of our position on the Scottish Forestry Bill which was successfully passed in March 2018. The next step is the significant plan of action for Scottish forestry: the Scottish Forestry Strategy. We launched a pre-consultation statement at The Royal Highland Show outlining what we want to see in the next strategy.

A native woodland creation target

It is our aim to ensure that the social and environmental components of responsible forestry and woodland management are prominent in the future of Scottish forestry.  We want to ensure more native woodland creation, with a target set in the strategy which will help increase the area covered by native forests from 5% to 8% by 2050. According to the latest new woodland grant approvals, broadleaves make up only a third of new planting. With the ambitious tree planting targets set by the Scottish Government to reach 15,000ha by 2025 there is space for more native woodland creation, as well as for commercial planting.

Charles Dundas, our public affairs manager, Graeme Dey, convenor of the environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, and Beccy Speight, our CEO, launch our pre-consultation statement (Photo: George Anderson/WTML)
Charles Dundas, our public affairs manager, Graeme Dey, convenor of the environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee, and Beccy Speight, our CEO, launch our pre-consultation statement (Photo: George Anderson/WTML)

No further loss of ancient woodland

We want to see a line in the strategy which says: ‘There will be no further loss of ancient woodland and trees’. Ancient woodland protection has been a long standing aim of ours and we want to ensure that this irreplaceable habitat, which covers just 1% of Scotland’s land area, will receive better protection. This goes hand in hand with our aim for ancient woodland restoration. Our ancient woodland restoration advisers have noted that UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) certification is the biggest driver for ancient woodland restoration. Therefore we want to see the new strategy enshrine the principles of ancient woodland restoration in line with the UKWAS requirements.

An updated Ancient Woodland Inventory

The data held on ancient woodland in Scotland is outdated and inaccurate, so we ask that the Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI) is updated and that its quality is improved. Scottish Natural Heritage, which keeps the inventory, does not currently plan an update. Mapping these areas correctly will better inform where ancient woodland is present and help us protect it.

Royal Highland Show

The statement was launched during a reception at the Royal Highland Show with Loch Arkaig flavoured gin from the amazing Gin Bothy. We were delighted to have Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight in attendance, and we are grateful to Graeme Dey MSP, convenor of the environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee who hosted the event.  Other attendees include the Minster for Employability and Training, Jamie Hepburn, and MSPs Peter Chapman, Finlay Carson and Rachael Hamilton, who is also our species champion for the alder tree. Throughout the show we also handed out 1000 free trees to good homes.

Woodland Trust Scotland attends the Royal Highland Show (Photo: Arina Nagy-Vizitiu/WTML)
Woodland Trust Scotland attends the Royal Highland Show (Photo: Arina Nagy-Vizitiu/WTML)

What’s next?

We expect the consultation to be open after the Scottish Parliament recess so we are gearing up to ensure our voice is heard when the time comes, and we need your backing. Our vision is for a UK rich in native trees and woods to be enjoyed by everyone, and we want this reflected in the Scottish Forestry Strategy. Show your support by becoming a member today.

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