MSPs pass bill modernising forestry regime

Forestry in Scotland will be fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament after MSPs backed the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the bill’s modern approach to forestry development, support and regulation will enable the Scottish government to better support the £1 billion industry and 25,000 jobs within the sector.

The bill aims to deliver:

  • Improved accountability, transparency and policy alignment as forestry will be fully accountable to Scottish ministers and Holyrood
  • A modern legislative framework to develop, support and regulate forestry in Scotland
  • More effective use of Scotland’s publicly owned land. The National Forest Estate will be managed to deliver economic, environmental and social outcomes and the Scottish government will be able to offer land management experience and expertise to others.
  • In order to deliver their new functions, the Scottish government will create two new agencies and intends to retain the expertise and skills of existing staff in the new arrangements.

Mr Ewing said: “The act will give Scotland the modern framework needed to support more tree planting, sustain existing woodlands and create new ones, while also maintaining our forests.

“We have a sector worth £1 billion to our economy, supporting over 25,000 jobs, and providing huge social and recreational opportunities for all our population.

“Our forests, woodlands and trees form a key part of our countryside – they are natural assets I am determined to nurture and grow for current and future generations.

“The bill introduces new statutory requirements to promote sustainable forest management and to produce a forestry strategy, as well as putting in place the foundations of a modern, flexible and more effective regulatory regime for felling.”