Forestry Bill passed

Modern approach to forestry backed by MSPs.

Forestry in Scotland will be fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament for the first time after MSPs backed the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the bill’s modern approach to forestry development, support and regulation will enable the Scottish Government to better support the £1 billion industry and 25,000 jobs within the sector, to create growth in the rural economy, mitigate climate change and develop the role forestry plays in health, education and recreation.

The bill will deliver:

  • Improved accountability, transparency and policy alignment as forestry will be fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament
  • A modern legislative framework to develop, support and regulate forestry in Scotland
  • More effective use of Scotland’s publicly owned land. The National Forest Estate will be managed to deliver economic, environmental and social outcomes and the Scottish Government will be able to offer land management experience and expertise to others.

In order to deliver their new functions, the Scottish Government will create two new agencies and intends to retain the expertise and skills of existing staff in the new arrangements.

Welcoming the passage of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“The Scottish Government is focused on ensuring that there is a bright future for forestry in Scotland.

“I am extremely proud to have been the Cabinet Secretary to lead this landmark legislation – the first ever bill on forestry in the devolved era - and crucially, the legislation fully devolves forestry to Scotland.

"It is disappointing that we will now not be able to forge ahead with our planned arrangements but I will absolutely respect and deliver the will of Parliament. In working out how to deliver what Parliament wants, I will do all I can to provide as much pace, clarity and certainty to ensure that the staff working currently in Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Enterprise Scotland can move swiftly and seamlessly to the new administrative arrangements.  They are key to the future of forestry –our ambitions will not be delivered without their skills and expertise and I want them to feel valued and respected in the process ahead.

“The Act will give Scotland the modern framework needed to support more tree planting, sustain existing woodlands and create new ones, while also maintaining our forests. We have a sector worth £1 billion to our economy, supporting over 25,000 jobs, and providing huge social and recreational opportunities for all our population.  Our forests, woodlands and trees form a key part of our countryside – they are natural assets I am determined to nurture and grow for current and future generations.

“The bill introduces new statutory requirements to promote sustainable forest management and to produce a forestry strategy, as well as putting in place the foundations of a modern, flexible and more effective regulatory regime for felling.”


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