Up until now, we have owned the National Forest Estate (NFE), provided funding and had responsibility for forestry strategy and policy, but the management of the NFE and delivery of forestry functions has been the responsibility of the Forestry Commissioners.
The Forestry Commission is a cross-border public authority and UK non-ministerial department with a statutory Board of Commissioners. The Commission is made up of a number of parts, including:
- Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES), which has carried out forestry operations and managed the NFE on Scottish Ministers' behalf
- Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), which is responsible for the other forestry functions in Scotland
Two new agencies
When we complete the devolution of forestry to Scotland on 1 April 2019, FCS and FES will become two new agencies of the Scottish Government:
- Scottish Forestry will be responsible for regulatory, policy and support functions
- Forestry and Land Scotland will be responsible for the management of the NFE and any other land managed for the purposes of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018
Staff from FCS and FES will be transferred to the two new agencies under the Cabinet Office Statement of Practice (COSoP) and will remain civil servants.
The Scottish Government and Forestry Commission Forestry Devolution Programme is overseeing the planning required for this through:
- the Scottish Forestry Project
- the Forestry and Land Scotland Project
- the Staff Transfer Project
In February 2018 we published the Forestry in Scotland statement in which we outlined our plan for managing and administering our future forestry responsibilities.
Report setting out the final administrative arrangements was laid before Parliament in March 2019, as were regulations setting out the required qualifications for the post of Chief Forester.