Scottish Forestry Strategy Review Consultation
Reforesting Scotland's response Sept 2005
What do you think have been the best things to happen in forestry since 2000?
Forestry for people, at least in the public sector, has started to be taken more seriously. Important achievements include:
- Increase in community woodlands and decision-making in woodland use and management and launch of the National Forestry Land Scheme
- Support to other initiatives that promote forest use in people's lives e.g. Woods for All, 7 Stanes project, forest schools and launch of the Woodlands In and Around Towns challenge fund
- Establishment and outputs of the Forestry for People Panel and creation of regional forums
Has the Forestry Strategy failed to deliver anything important?
Yes, see below:
- The private sector have fallen far behind in terms of social forestry - such as consultation, participation and benefits from privately owned forests
- Effective integration with other sectors and relevant policy such as Scottish Executive strategies e.g. Building a Better Scotland, Healthier Scotland, Smart, Successful Scotland and CAP reform (where forestry almost appears as an 'add-on' within the menu of land management contract options) and does not reflect opportunities of social forestry
- Effective protection and restoration of ancient and semi-natural woodlands
- Providing a proper evidence-base with which to demonstrate the significant (and oft-quoted) impact of forestry on health, social networks and active citizenship, local business, biodiversity etc.
- A formal review of the strategy's successes and failures
Is the broad content of the current Forestry Strategy still relevant and appropriate?
Scotland's people and communities need to be the main priority for the strategy and this should be reflected in its content, priorities, actions - and outcomes
Are any changes now required to the Forestry Strategy's Vision, Guiding Principles and Strategic Directions? If so what are they?
Yes, we suggest:
"Scotland will be renowned as a land of fine trees, woods and forests, populated by vibrant communities, providing real social benefits locally and nationally, supporting thriving wood-based industries, and a sustainable land use culture"
Guiding principles and strategic directions should be rewritten to remove the emphasis on the softwood timber industry, and relate them more directly to people's needs and diverse benefits - health, jobs, community, education, quality of life i.e. the real political agenda
Should any of the existing priorities for action be dropped? If so, which ones?
Yes, see below:
Should there be any new priorities for Action? If so, what should they be?
Proposed new strategic directions and priorities for action include:
1. Woodlands for people
- Enable community and small-scale ownership and management
- Promote forests as the inspiration and setting for cultural events
- Develop and support education in and about forest and land
- Support use of woodlands for mental and physical wellbeing and health of Scotland's people
- Increase the role of forestry in promoting active citizenship
- Support inclusive access to recreation and wider benefits from woodland
- Promote sustainable, affordable buildings for living and working
- Create and enable wider, meaningful employment from woodland
2. Woodlands for a healthy environment
- Conserve and enhance woodland biodiversity
- Expand, enhance and protect ancient and native woodland
- Restore and 'wild' unproductive conifer plantations
- Mitigate climate change through carbon storage and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases
- Improve contributions to soil and water quality
3. Woodlands for quality forest management
- Improve softwood and hardwood timber quality
- Increase area of quality hardwood grown
- Increase area of woodland managed for woodfuel and biomass
- Promote and develop markets for value-added products from Scottish timber
- Ensure all commercial planting occurs on appropriate sites to ensure good quality and access
- Enable other land owners and managers to grow good quality, multiple benefit woodland
- Develop certification schemes suitable for small-scale producers
4. Woodlands for a healthy, diverse economy
- Develop and promote diverse wood/woodland-based business opportunities for small and medium -scale [as appropriate - including woodfuel, NTFPs, tourism, recreation, pulp, paper, furniture]
- Develop and support local wood processing and use
- Support wood-based biomass energy development
- Develop infrastructure to minimise timber transport and maximise local added value
- Promote and develop quality products, markets and skills base
- Manage all woodlands for multiple benefits
Is an appropriate balance being achieved between the economic, environmental and social aspects of forestry? If not, please give specific examples
- No, there is currently over-emphasis on the timber industry, with insufficient focus on social and environmental benefits
- Forestry for people should be at the centre of the strategy - forests are a public good (see response to question 8)
- The current interpretation of economic is too narrow - the wider and downstream benefits associated with forests (better health, social capital and quality of life) should be reflected in the objectives of forest and other public sectors
- It is not just a question about balance; there is a need for more, better quality, and longer term delivery of benefits
Do you agree that the Scottish Forestry Strategy should be focused primarily on increasing the benefits of forestry to the people of Scotland?
- Yes, public money should be spent on maximising public benefits including building citizenship, conservation, recreation, and local economic benefits
Should woodlands play a greater role in helping Scotland deal with climate change? If so, how?
- Yes, but any approach mitigating climate change through forestry must be honest and intelligent - addressing solutions for the longer term and aiming to reduce carbon emissions throughout the sector as well as maximising storage of carbon. Climate change is caused by carbon dioxide trapped by plant life millions of years ago being released today; trees live for a few hundred years max (often less if grown for harvest). No forest can tackle climate change. However, key changes can be made through forestry that can play a significant part in changing our lifestyle and moving to a low-carbon economy
- Carbon stores should be created for the long-term - for example planting native woodland, and selecting species that are slow growing, for use in creating products that will last for tens and hundreds of years e.g. housing
- Greenhouse gas emissions from transport and processing should be reduced; and substitution of fossil fuels by wood fuel should be a priority
What should be the role of forestry in sustainable rural development?
- Create quality jobs through localising processing/ value-adding and diversifying woodland/ wood-based employment
- Increase access to buying and leasing forested land and allowing use of forest resources that would otherwise go to waste
- Provide education and training to encourage the development of viable, meaningful employment from woods - including woodfuel, housing, NTFPs, tourism, arts, recreation, pulp, paper, furniture
- Build social capital in rural areas through supporting community forestry and participation in woodland use and management that will lead to wider community confidence, development and active citizenship
- Enhance ecological benefits of local forest resources - such as landscape, biodiversity and as a source of food and culture. Effectively restore and protect our natural heritage (see response to question 15)
- Promote building of affordable, good quality, ecological housing from Scottish wood amongst the public and trades people. Enable appropriate skills development and planning conditions. Promote uptake of the National Forest Land Scheme and affordable housing in the context of forest small holdings
How could forestry become more of an exemplar of sustainable development in Scotland?
- Real sustainable development requires a change in attitude and behaviour that recognises progress in terms of social and environmental well-being rather than GDP-based economics
- In Scotland there are already many examples of forests and woodlands that are being used and managed for the benefit of community, environment, and economy. These integrated local approaches demonstrate practically the concept of sustainable development. These examples should be the basis for awareness-raising and education to enable these 'examples' to become common practice, and the vision for support and development throughout the forestry sector
- Local and regional needs should be served before multi-national ones
- More resources and targeted efforts are required into enhancing, restoring and protecting Scotland's natural heritage (see response to question 15). This is essential for ensuring the integrity of our environment and helping people to build strong relationships and respect for our forests and woodlands
- Seek to reduce environmental impact throughout the forestry lifecycle (including machine production and use, forestry operations, transport and processing). Maximise use of bi-products from forestry operations - for example in the production of charcoal, fertiliser and wood preserver from softwood harvesting
- Positive lessons in forestry should be used to actively promote integrated land use, through for example forestry crofts and villages, and policy development across sectors - reflected in for example land management contracts and rural development regulations. Forestry must lead by example
How could Scotland respond to the opportunities presented by the increasing supply of timber from Scotland's woodlands?
- Scotland is faced with an increased supply of softwood - which is facing strong competition from eastern and northern Europe. Much of Scotland's softwood is of poor quality - and some plantations have been 'abandoned' because they are too uneconomical to harvest
- Commercial forestry must adapt and aim to produce a higher quality timber product to which value can be added - by for example investing in quality hardwood planting and silviculture and product development (including buildings, biomass, fuelwood)
- Softwoods still have a place - and possibly more so in the face of increasing fuel and therefore transport and processing costs. Local infrastructure must be developed to reduce transport requirements of pulp and paper. Education to reduce consumption, so that national demand can be supplied will be important. Replace Sitka spruce with Douglas fir and European larch that can be used for a wider range of uses.
- Be creative and forward thinking in using forests where harvesting is not economical in classic terms. Offer the resource to local business and communities, don't replant for timber, and work to restore ecologically valuable land and open woodland
How could the overall economic potential of Scotland's woodlands be increased?
- The current definition of economics is too narrow. If the term is adapted to incorporate downstream values (e.g. tourism, quality of life, house values, health, community confidence) and wellbeing (e.g. as defined by the New Economic Foundation) - it is clear that the potential of Scotland's woodlands are enormous - and it is a question of realising this potential to the benefit of Scotland's people
- All forest land should provide multiple benefits
- Where classical forestry is not 'economical' - make the land available for use/ management by others for small holdings and crofts, fuelwood and biomass, small and medium-scale business, community use, recreation etc. All of these have significant direct and indirect economic benefits
- Develop forestry for quality timber and products - this requires support to growing the resource, building skills and confidence, and developing markets
- Create and support high value and diverse jobs related to woods and wood products - including local wood processing, non timber products, mountain biking, game management, tourism and education. Support the development of wood and forest-based businesses through providing support to business planning, market development, lesson-sharing across the country, extended into value-added processing, and building skills in carpentry, building and joinery linked to using wood
- Reduce economic costs related to negative environmental impact - including environmental pollution, carbon emissions, and fuel use
Should the private and public forestry sectors engage further in social issues such as deprivation, health, equality and disability? If so, how?
- Yes, healthy and accessible forests can contribute significantly towards environmental justice, physical and mental wellbeing, and building social identity and active citizenship. As forests are a public good the forestry sector has a responsibility to maximise these benefits
- There is much good support for access and recreation, - however there is still a need to increase access to forests for people of all ages and abilities; forests need to become desirable places to play and work in - rather than dark foreboding impenetrable borders
- Increased commitment to encouraging and enabling more and better participation in forestry and land use - through better consultation processes, sharing knowledge, supporting organisations and community projects, and increasing accessible education in forest ecology and culture
- Continue to build more and better partnerships with institutions and schemes that can take advantage of forest resources to improve social welfare - including links to health programmes and hospitals, youth and offender projects, schools and organisations that work to reinvigorate forest use and culture
- In urban as well as rural areas. Continued support for the Woodlands In and Around Towns to improve woodlands near areas of social deprivation, and with the flexibility to pay for improving access, education provision, community involvement, health living initiatives etc.
Has there been sufficient focus on the contribution of woodlands to the enhancement of our natural heritage? If not, what more needs to be done?
No, although this is definitely moving in the right direction, and it is a long process. Current aims of the strategy are not being met because there is inadequate attention paid to getting action undertaken where it is most needed or where benefit will be greatest, and leaving change in the hands of willing owners. As a result many woodland SSSIs are still in poor management and are degrading, the habitat network work development is slow, and many ancient and semi-natural woods are similarly ignored - especially in the lowlands where there is still far too little woodland development. Priorities include:
- Ensuring that environmental goals are addressed through an effective, and targeted approach - in active public-private partnerships i.e. FCS staff must work actively with owners and land managers to get woods into management or to deliver woodland expansion
- Delivering on Forest Habitat Networks
- Delivering on Scottish Executive biodiversity commitments for Scotland's woods and forests (including UK Biodiversity Action Plan, and EU Habitats and Birds Directive). This commitment to biodiversity is a key cross-cutting issue that should apply throughout forestry in Scotland
- Restore woodland biodiversity through diversifying forests, developing abandoned uneconomic forest land and increasing continuous cover
- Provide greater protection of semi-natural woods - especially long-established woodland. Extend important woodland types such as riparian and tree-line woodland, wet woodland and montane scrub
- Control invasive species such as rhododendron and Japanese knotweed
Has there been sufficient focus on the contribution of woodlands to the enhancement of our cultural heritage? If not, what more needs to be done?
- No, there has not been sufficient focus on our cultural heritage. If we look at our neighbouring countries or into our past - knowledge and celebration of forest culture in Scotland today is minimal
- People place value on forests the more they use and relate to it. This will develop as opportunities for living, making a living and celebrating culture in and around forests grow
- More effort is therefore required in providing access, supporting lifestyles, creativity, events, education and community development through woodlands. Projects like the Wood School, forest schools and 7 Stanes are excellent ways of regenerating forest culture
- Hold events, open days, education programmes, employ forest rangers, support local groups and develop more integrated and realistic projects
- Develop partnerships with projects and organisations working to promote forestry culture in Scotland - and learn from and share lessons from them
- Enable use of forests as places of work, living, education and events
How can the forestry sector be better integrated with other land uses?
- Forestry should have equal political status with agriculture - and have more formal influence over sustainable land use
- The SFGS should be completely integrated into Land Management Contracts so that farmers and landowners need only fill in a single form for grants. The service to farmers and land owners must be seamless to be effective
- Demonstrate models for integrating land use, enabling farmers to manage woodlands for their multiple benefits to society/ public and farming (e.g. use of fuelwood and timber for farm building; community involvement for woodland use and management and growing food; and education about land - extending forest to land schools), through engaging with SEERAD, with farmers, and supporting innovative projects
How should we determine the appropriate extent and distribution of woodland in Scotland? How much woodland do we need? What type of woodland do we need? Where do we need it?
- The focus should be on developing, maintaining and managing high quality woodland that delivers multiple benefits and meets social, heritage and environmental targets
- Woodlands should be sited on appropriate land - for producing high quality timber/ woodland/ product, and for delivering social, heritage and environment benefits
- Woodland should never be planted for a single objective
Should regional priorities be reflected in the revised Strategy? If so, how?
- Yes. The strategy should commit to establishing processes that will define regional priorities and allow for flexibility in application based on local distinctiveness - and according to the outcomes of the processes. Depending upon the context consultative processes may include public meetings, consulting interest groups and the regional forestry forums
Is the balance of support mechanisms for forestry about right? If not, how should it change?
- No, it could be improved - particularly in delivering forestry for people and targeting restoration of areas where there is a shortage of important and healthy diverse woodland
- Establish partnerships with, and/or increase support to, organisations that are working to deliver forestry strategy, to maximise its effectiveness and impact. With the same aim, provide training to academic institutions, individuals and communities in management for multiple benefit - including for natural heritage and small-scale forest business and product development
- Provide more support to the private sector to improve environmental impact and increase local benefits from forestry
Could forestry incentives be better focused on key priorities? If so how?
- These could be improved by basing incentives on regional priorities and that are based on forestry for people
- Support initiatives, such as forest crofts and forest village models, that seek to demonstrate how forests can be viably managed for multiple benefit - including providing sources of food, building local economies and social capital, as well as biodiversity and creative timber management
- The strategy should be published in a language that can be understood by its target audience i.e. the people of Scotland
- The Scottish Executive needs to be accountable for delivering the Strategy. SMART targets should be established that will help to monitor progress and evaluate successes. Better monitoring of social, environmental and wider economic impacts will be of enormous value to the forestry sector and attaining support for the future
- The Forestry Commission are to be commended for establishing a many-layered consultation process. We ask that sufficient time and mind be devoted to analysis, interpretation and incorporation of this important review