- 28 Aug 2019
Date received: 15 Aug 2019
Date responded: 21 Aug 2019
- Since October 2017 how many hectares of Eucalypts (any species) have been planted on the National Forest Estate (FLS or FES)?
- Since October 2017 how many hectares of Eucalypts have been grant-aided by Forestry Commission and Scottish Forestry?
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
This exemption is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
The answer to your question is:
1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) does not hold any detailed records of Eucalyptus species planted on land managed by FLS or its predecessor Forest Enterprise Scotland since October 2017. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter. FLS’s plant and seed supply records show that within an annual programme of around 24 million trees sourced and grown, FLS ordered 200 Eucalyptus plants in 2018. These were planted and recorded under the ‘mixed broadleaves’ category within its database.
2. Scottish Forestry (nor its predecessor Forestry Commission Scotland) does not provide grant aid for Eucalyptus under the Forestry Grant Scheme, therefore I can confirm there has been zero hectares planted since 2017.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
The Scottish Government does not have the information
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested, because due to the construction of the Forestry and Land Scotland data bases they do not capture the detailed information on the number of hectares of Eucalypts planted.
This exception is subject to the ‘public interest test’. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about the planting of Eucalypts, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House