13 Jun 2023
New forestry measures to include £1 million investment in skills
Scottish Forestry is to invest up to £1 million in a comprehensive skills training programme for its front line staff in a drive to ramp up tree planting levels in Scotland.
The move is part of a delivery action plan announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon to help the private and public sectors to “step up their game” on woodland creation and ensure forestry plays its part in tackling and mitigating climate change.
Other measures include increasing the level of support for smaller scale woodland projects, providing more advice and support for farmers, refreshed community engagement guidance and more support for riparian planting.
Forestry and Land Scotland has also committed to make Glenprosen estate an exemplar of woodland creation and integrated land management and accelerate its tree planting beyond its target in the coming year.
During a visit to Akre tree nursery in Kirkcaldy today, Ms Gougeon said:
“Expanding Scotland’s woodlands is critical if we are to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.
“The Scottish Government has invested heavily in woodland creation over the past years with an extra £150 million towards forestry grants and extra capacity in Forestry and Land Scotland’s tree nursery. We have also supported the industry with improving transport options, to find new markets for processed timber, to improve infrastructure, and provide a more diverse supply chain.
“We know that skills and capacity in both the public and private sector is a key issue that is hampering our planting efforts, however, government can’t solve this alone
“Scottish Forestry has taken action and boosted its staff numbers by 20% to help meet the demand for new woodland proposals. But we now need to invest in and develop this expanded team so that we can increase the speed in which we turn around woodland creation approvals.
“I want this million pound investment in skills and training to incentivise the wider forestry industry to do more to recruit, train and support a whole new generation of forestry professionals. That way we can meet our tree planting and woodland creation ambitions and create real opportunity for people in an industry and sector that is vital to all our futures, including the sort of innovation that has been introduced here at Akre tree nursery.”
Tree nurseries are a cornerstone of the forestry sector, supplying the industry with young trees. Providing more of our own stock will help to lower the sector’s own carbon footprint, deliver more biosecurity, help us meet planting targets and create more jobs and businesses. Scottish Forestry has been supporting Akre tree nursery through forestry grants to help them buy vital equipment to help them expand.
Akre’s Managing Director, Renwick Drysdale said:
“We are delighted to have built the world's first verified carbon-negative tree nursery, radically improving tree propagation. The proprietary blend of technology used at Akre produces the highest quality, lowest impact trees on the market.
“This would not have been possible without the considerable support we have received from the Scottish Government. It will help us deliver the country's ambitious tree-planting targets while having a significant impact on tree propagation around the world as we help other countries get closer to producing the 1 trillion-plus additional trees required globally by 2050. We are very grateful for their support in helping us guarantee the next generation of woodlands.”
Woodland creation will also be boosted through Forestry and Land Scotland, which is set to increase its yearly programme from the current 500 hectares a year to 900 hectares by 2027/8.
The agency has undertaken a series of land purchases to enable them to do this, including the 3,500 hectare Glenprosen estate in the Angus Glens which will be consulted on in the future to determine woodland creation plans.
Welcoming Forestry and Land Scotland’s ambitions at Glenprosen, Ms Gougeon added:
“The estate could act as the golden piece in a jigsaw which could see neighbouring properties collaborate on a landscape scale.
“This will be great news for woodland creation and our national planting targets, whilst delivering for Net Zero.
“Key to this landscape sized project will be consulting closely with neighbouring properties. The future for the estate looks to be a very exciting one in terms of boosting the environment, biodiversity and producing community benefits.”
Notes to news Editors
As part of the package of new measures, Scottish Forestry will implement the following to support tree planting in Scotland:
- invest £1 million into training Scottish Forestry staff over the next two years to speed up the woodland creation application process;
- work closely with industry bodies and groups so that the training on developing and implementing woodland creation projects is expanded;
- review and create more specialised teams to help deal with the more complex stages of the Forestry Grant Scheme that can delay woodland creation projects;
- increase grant rates and eligibility for riparian planting across Scotland;
- increase the level of support for smaller scale woodland projects, to help counter recent inflationary pressures;
- improve advice and information to farmers to help encourage them to integrate woodlands on their farms;
- publish refreshed guidance on community engagement within the woodland creation application process;
- implement technical improvements and process enhancements to speed up applications;
- provide better management information for Scottish Forestry staff and applicants to also help speed up applications;
- reprioritise existing resources and areas of delivery to ensure that woodland creation is its key focus in all operations.