“While other sectors have struggled to recover from the 2008 downturn, Scotland’s forestry and wood processing industry has grown by 50 per cent – and in addition to contributing £1bn a year to the economy, the sector employs over 25,000 people”, said Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall.
“Scotland is the clear UK leader in forestry and there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish a support and regulatory structure that can build on and further strengthen that leadership position.”
The Scottish Government today opened a consultation, The Future of Forestry in Scotland, which runs until 9th November. It has three elements:
– Proposal for new organisational arrangements for Forestry Commission Scotland;
– Questions regarding future cross-border co-ordination on forestry;
– Questions on how legislation should be framed to deliver the new arrangements.
Confor has argued that the sector would benefit from a continued strong core of professional civil servants within the Scottish Government devoted to forestry with the expertise to understand and support modern forestry practices.
Confor has also made strong representation regarding the significant productive forest resource managed by the Forestry Commission. This resource is a key asset that has helped support the significant growth of wood processing in Scotland. The consultation recognises the vital importance for a guaranteed future timber supply, which Mr Goodall said was vital to drive investment and confidence.
Norbord announced an investment of almost £100m in its site at Dalcross, near Inverness, earlier this year and new investment in the wood processing sector in Scotland has averaged in excess of £50m over the last decade. James Jones & Sons, BSW and Glennon Brothers have also made significant recent investment announcements in Scotland.
“The private forestry sector now provides a majority of the wood consumed in Scotland by mills, but the productive woodland managed by the Forestry Commission is also very important,” said Mr Goodall. “It is good to see that Fergus Ewing, the Cabinet Secretary, recognises this and the consultation makes clear that future wood supply will be guaranteed.”
The consultation also proposes that there will be cross-border co-operation with the other countries of the UK on areas such as research, pests and diseases and standards for forest management.
“The process of creating new arrangements for forestry in Scotland provides an opportunity for the Scottish Government to aim for continued significant growth in the sector and to take a lead on cross-border matters, for example through a strong forest research facility in Scotland.”