L-R Charles Dundas, Gail Ross MSP, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Stuart Goodhall.
I chaired a fringe event at the SNP conference in March about forestry in Scotland.
Scotland’s forests and woodlands are an asset for the nation, providing beautiful places for recreation, delivering £1 billion in annual economic value, supporting 25,000 jobs and reducing the impact of climate change and flooding.
The Scottish Government recognises this and has published ambitious plans that will see tree planting targets increase by 50% (from 10,000 hectares per year to 15,000 per year) by 2024-5.
Speakers from Scottish Government, leading conservation charity Woodland Trust Scotland and forestry and wood industry body Confor will debate how these plans will secure Scotland’s low carbon green future.
Gail Ross MSP, Deputy Convener, Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (Chair)
Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Charles Dundas, Public Affairs Manager, Woodland Trust Scotland - Charles is Public Affairs Manager at the Woodland Trust, the leading woodland conservation charity in the country, who directly manage over 8000 hectares of woodland across Scotland, from urban sites in Glenrothes to ancient oak woodlands in Andrew Carnegie’s former highland estate up in Sutherland.With a background in practical public policy influencing, Charles has been responsible for all the Trust’s policy, campaigns and government affairs activity in Scotland for three years now - assisting with the protection of existing woodland and forestry; the expansion through new planting; and the enhancement of the quality of woodland through better management and regulation.
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive, Confor: Promoting forestry and wood which represents forestry, wood and related businesses across the UK. He has 27 years’ experience in the sector, the first 17 with the Forestry Commission where his roles included briefing ministers and representing UK interests at European level. He joined Confor at its inception as head of policy and became Chief Executive in 2007.
There was a lively discussion about land use, tree planting and conservation and how we move forward to reach our planting targets. The planning system was also mentioned with a general agreement that the system works in some areas but not in others.
There was also a discussion about farmers and landowners and encouragement of further planting on land that cannot be used to grow crops but could support trees.
It was noted that if we are to withdraw from the EU, some form of financial help still needs to be provided. At the moment, forestry gains from the Common Agricultural Policy but the future of this is uncertain.