An area threshold exists for all forestry projects in Scotland. If the area of land on which a project is proposed is greater than the area threshold, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) might be required, to determine whether the project can take place.

Separate area thresholds exist for land that is either in sensitive areas or outside of sensitive areas.

Area thresholds and sensitive areas

ProjectThreshold where any part of the land is in a sensitive areaThreshold where no part of the land is in a sensitive area
Afforestation

2 hectares in a National Scenic Area (NSA)

No threshold in other sensitive areas (listed below)

20 hectares
Deforestation

0.5 hectare in a NSA

No threshold in other sensitive areas

1 hectare
Forest roads No threshold 1 hectare
Forest quarries No threshold 1 hectare

Thresholds and exceptional circumstances

A forestry project is to be taken as not likely to have a significant effect on the environment if the area covered, or to be covered, by the project does not exceed any relevant threshold specified in the above table. The Regulations do however allow Scottish Forestry to ask the applicant to apply for consent for forestry projects below these thresholds, where we believe there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ which, taking account of the selection criteria in Schedule 2 of the Regulations, make it likely that the forestry project will have a significant effect on the environment.

Important note

If any work has been carried out in an area adjacent to the project within the previous five years, this area must also be counted towards the area threshold. For further advice contact Scottish Forestry.

Land Information Search

Use the Land Information Search (LIS) to identify any designations or sensitivities which might affect the project. Any designations or sensitivities in place will determine the particular area threshold that applies. Contact details for the organisation responsible for these features will be provided on the report that is produced by the search.

Definition of sensitive areas

  • a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI);
  • land to which an order has been made under section 23 (nature conservation orders) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004;
  • an area designated as a National Park under section 6(1) of the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000;
  • a property appearing on the World Heritage List kept under article 11(2) of the 1972 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Worlds Cultural and Natural Heritage;
  • a scheduled monument within the meaning of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979;
  • a National Scenic Area (NSA) as designated by a direction made by Scottish Ministers under section 263A of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 2006;
  • a European site within the meaning of regulation 10 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc) Regulations 1994; and
  • for the purposes of the thresholds, deep peat soil which is organic soil which contains more than 60 per cent of organic matter and exceeds 50 centimetres in thickness.