The future of forestry in Scotland: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses to the public consultation on the future of forestry in Scotland. Report by Craigforth.


This report presents an analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's public consultation on the Future of Forestry in Scotland.


The 2016 Scottish National Party manifesto included a commitment to complete the devolution of forestry. The consultation on the Future of Forestry in Scotland puts forward the Government's proposals to deliver this commitment, including new organisational arrangements, cross-border arrangements, and a modern legislative framework for the development, support and regulation of forestry. Forestry policy is already devolved but the management of forestry - including of the Scottish Ministers' National Forest Estate (the NFE) - has until now remained with the Forestry Commissioners, which is a UK Non-Ministerial Department and, since devolution, a cross-border public authority.

The consultation on the Future of Forestry in Scotland was published on 31 August 2016 and ran until 9 November 2016. The consultation questions relate to the three main areas identified above, and also aim to draw out information for impact assessments that will support decisions on how to take the issues forward. There is also a final, general question inviting any further comments relevant to the paper.

Profile of respondents

A total of 604 responses were available for analysis [2] . The majority of these (566 responses) were received through the Scottish Government's Citizen Space consultation hub.

Respondents were asked to identify whether they were responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation. Group respondents were then asked to identify their group type from a list of given options. If group respondents had not identified a group type, they were allocated a group by the analysis team [3] .

Two of the original group types ('Public sector' and 'Public sector - local or national government'), were subsequently merged into a single Public sector group for ease of analysis. A full list of group respondents can be found in Annex 1.

A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below. The table also gives the respondent type abbreviations used within the report.

Table 1: Respondents by type

Type of respondent Number % of all respondents Abbreviation used
Individuals 497 82% Ind
Third sector 35 6% Th
Private sector 29 5% Pr
Other 24 4% O
Public sector 14 2% Pu
Academic or research body 5 1% Ac
Total Organisations 107 18% -
Total 604 100% -

Of the 604 responses, the majority (82%) were submitted by individual members of the public. Points to note about the responses received from organisations include:

  • Third sector respondents are the largest group and include organisations with a particular interest in forestry, woodlands or trees as well as a number of organisations with an environmental focus. Responses were also received from groups focused on recreational interests or which are community-based.
  • The private sector respondents include timber processing companies, surveyors and agents, forestry and land managers and organisations with a tourism focus.
  • The 'other' organisational respondents group is diverse and includes trade union respondents, representative or membership bodies from various professions or parts of the private sector and various forestry-related fora.
  • The public sector group includes six local authority respondents along with bodies with a health and safety, economic and land-ownership focus.
  • The academic or research body group is the smallest with responses from two Scottish universities, a research institute, a trust and a society.

It should be noted that, as with any public consultation exercise, those responding generally have a particular interest in the subject area. However, the views they express cannot necessarily be seen as representative of wider public opinion.

Analysis and reporting

The remainder of this report presents a question-by-question analysis of the comments made. A small number of respondents did not make their submission on the consultation questionnaire, but submitted their comments in a statement-style format. When these responses contained a clear answer to one of the Yes/No questions this has been recorded. The remaining content was analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant consultation question.

Other points to note about the analysis of further comments made are:

  • Brief analysis of the three Yes/No questions ( i.e. 1a, 5 and 8) is presented in the body of the report. A complete record of the answers to these questions in table format can be found in Annex 2.
  • Comments varied considerably in their length and complexity and a small number of respondents made extensive and detailed comments. This report presents a summary analysis which focuses primarily on the most frequently raised themes but also considers the range of, and differences in, views expressed.
  • A number of respondents may have drawn on material produced by the Woodland Trust when preparing their submission [4] . The analysis of further comments made, and in particular the frequent use of certain key phrases, suggests that this may apply to around 1 in 5 individual responses.
  • The precise meaning of some comments was not clear, particularly when the various agencies or divisions (current or proposed) were referred to and/or when there was extensive use of acronyms. There were also some occasions when comments suggest that respondents may not have fully understood the arrangements which are currently in place.
  • Some respondents suggested that some of the questions were either unclear or that they were unable to give a clear answer because a question covered more than one issue. This was particularly prevalent at Question 1.

If the respondent gave permission to publish, their original response can be found on the Scottish Government's website [5] .


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