Publication - FOI/EIR release

Measuring Climate Change tree planting targets: EIR release

Published: 17 Mar 2020

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
17 Mar 2020
Measuring Climate Change tree planting targets: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/247789
Date received: 20 Feb 2020
Date responded: 16 Mar 2020
Information requested
  • How many trees have been planted in Scotland since 5 May 2016, broken down by year?
  • How are the Climate Change Plan tree planting targets being measured?
Response

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.

I enclose some of the information you requested.

How many trees have been planted in Scotland since 5 May 2016, broken down by year?
Woodland creation statistics for Scotland are routinely published and in the public domain on the Forest Research website regarding the number of hectares planted, broken down by year, conifer/broadleaves and public and private sector. These statistics can be found at: www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/.
Scottish Forestry does not hold or collect data on the exact number of trees planted, however the usual conversion factor that can be used is an average of 2,000 trees per hectare.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance 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.

How are the Climate Change Plan tree planting targets being measured?
The Climate Change Plan sets out the Scottish Government’s targets (https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-governments-climate-change-plan-third-report-proposals-policies-2018/) which includes woodland creation.
The measurement of the forestry component is done as part of the annual monitoring of woodland creation and publication of official statistics which is done by Forest Research on behalf of the Scottish Government and this data can be found here: (https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/)

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide all of the information you have requested because exemptions under regulation 6(1)(b) (information otherwise accessible) of the EIRs apply to that information. The reasons why that exception applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.

ANNEX
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. Scottish Forestry does not hold the data you have requested relating to how many trees have been planted in Scotland since 5 May 2016, broken down by year. Data is collected on the number of hectares planted each year, not individual trees.
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 number of trees planted clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

Information otherwise accessible
Under the terms of the exemption at regulation 6(1)(b) (information otherwise accessible) of the EIRs apply to that information. We do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format.
The information you asked for relating the Climate Change Plan tree planting targets being measured are already in the public domain and available on the Scottish Government website for the Climate Change Action Plan https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-governments-climate-change-plan-third-report-proposals-policies-2018/) and the annual monitoring of woodland creation is available of Forest Research’s statistics webpage
https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/).

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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