Felling and restocking regulations: strategic environmental assessment

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA) to accompany the consultation on the regulation of felling and restocking in 2018.

Appendix C: Other Plans, Programmes and Strategies

PPS/Legislation Context and Name

Main requirements of the PPS or Legislation

International Forestry Policy

United Nations

United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 ( UNSPF [66] )

The UNSPF provides a global framework to sustainably manage all types of forests and trees outside forests, and halt deforestation and forest degradation.

  • Also provides a framework for forest-related contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the United Nations Forest Instrument ( UNFI) and other international forest-related instruments, processes, commitments and goals.
  • Serves as a reference for the forest-related work of the UN system and for fostering enhanced coherence, collaboration and synergies among UN bodies and partners towards the following vision and mission, as well as a framework to enhance the coherence of and guide and focus the work of the International Arrangement on Forests ( IAF) and its components.
  • At the heart of the UNSPF are 6 Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets to be achieved by 2030. The Global Forest Goals and targets are voluntary and universal. They support the objectives of the IAF and aim to contribute to progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and other international forest-related instruments, processes, commitments and goals. The vision, principles and commitments set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provide the context for the Global Forest Goals and targets, which are interconnected and integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of SFM and sustainable development.

European Union

Although there is no provision for a common forestry policy at the EU level, forests are influenced by a wide range of community policies, regulations and initiatives, particularly those relating to protecting biodiversity and addressing climate change [67] . Additionally, the EU Forestry Strategy provides a non-legislative framework to guide the development of policies having an impact on forests [68] .


Forest Europe (previously the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe), is the principal regional fora which develops the principles and definitions of sustainable forest management. The UK is a signatory of all Forest Europe commitments and resolutions [69] for the sustainable management of forests that reflect the objectives of the Forest Principles and other agreements of the 1992 Earth Summit [70] as well as its own vision of a European forest resource which supports 'a green economy, livelihoods, climate change mitigation [and] biodiversity conservation' and improves water quality and combats desertification [71] . The UK Forestry Standard is the mechanism by which these commitments are carried out domestically [72] .


The UK Forestry Standard ( UKFS ), revised in 2017, acts as the reference standard for sustainable forest management in the UK, applying to all woodland regardless of ownership [73] . It also serves as a vehicle for meeting the requirements of, and monitoring for international agreements on sustainable forest management of which the UK is a part [74] . The UKFS is regulated and monitored in Scotland by Forestry Commission Scotland ( FCS) [75] . The UKFS and its associated guidelines captures all international, EU and domestic legislation relevant to forestry practices in the UK.


The Forestry Act 1967 [76] and its subsequent amendments is the principal legislation relating to the forestry sector in Scotland. It specifies the statutory duties and powers of the Forestry Commissioners as promoting the interests of forestry, the development of afforestation, and the production and supply of timber and other forest products [77] . The Act will be repealed by the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 and that Act, once commenced, will introduce new provision about Scottish Ministers' functions in relation to forestry, in relation to the management of forestry land, and other land.


Forestry Commission Scotland ( FCS) deliver, advise upon, and implement forest policy in line with Scottish Government's National Performance Framework and other relevant priorities and policies. The current Scottish Government vision for forestry is provided by the 2006 Scottish Forestry Strategy [78] . However, under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 Scottish Ministers will have a duty to prepare, publish and report on a new strategy. The new strategy will be in place by 1 April 2019. The Strategy describes a forest resource that is diverse and robust, environmentally sensitive, and enhances human wellbeing in a number of ways [79] .

Scotland – Policies covering tree and woodland removal - The removal of trees and woodlands is controlled by a number of legislative and policy measures, depending upon the circumstances and scale of the removal. Statutory procedures for the licensing of felling and restocking, and associated provisions on enforcement, appeals, and exemptions, are discussed in Section 2 of this report.

Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997

Requires planning authorities to provide for the preservation or planting of trees when granting planning permission [80] . It also confers on Scottish planning authorities powers to make TPO for individual or groups of trees in the interests of amenity and cultural or historical significance, and sets out provisions on protection for trees in conservation areas. The Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Regulations 2010 updated the procedure for making, varying, and revoking TPOs under the Act [81] .

Scottish Government policy on the control of woodland removal

Provides a strategic framework for appropriate woodland removal, covering the maintenance and expansion of forest cover and the achievement of an appropriate balance between forested and non-forested land [82] .

National Peatland Plan

Guidance around felling in afforested peatland sites is provided by the National Peatland Plan, which permits felling without restocking in certain cases [83] .

Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004

Amended the Forestry Act 1967, enabling Forestry Commissioners to refuse felling licenses in instances where biodiversity or the visual quality of the land could be at risk [84] .

Scotland – Policies covering woodland expansion and reforestation

In general, woodland expansion is promoted by several national PPS such as the Land Use Strategy, the Climate Change Plan, and Scotland's Rural Development Programme [85] . The Rationale for Woodland Expansion lays out the Scottish Government's thinking on how woodland expansion can best increase the delivery of public benefits from Scotland's land [86] . The FCS publication ' The creation of small woodlands on farms' advises on opportunities for creating new small woodlands in three different types of agricultural settings: arable land, permanent grassland, and hill land and unimproved grazing [87] .

Wider Policy Objectives related to the scoped in topics

Biodiversity, Flora, and Fauna policy

International policies provide a framework for the conservation, protection, and sustainable use of biodiversity, flora, and fauna.

  • The Convention on Biological Diversity ( CBD ) was opened for signature at the 1992 Earth Summit, which also gave rise to the Forest Principles [88] . It functions as an internationally legally-binding treaty founded upon three primary goals: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the fair and equitable use of biological and natural resources, including forests [89] . It is often regarded as the key international instrument guiding sustainable development [90] .
  • This progress towards an international commitment to halting biodiversity loss continued with the development of the Aichi Targets for 2020 [91] . The 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity [92] is Scotland's response to the Aichi Targets as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 [93] . The 2020 Challenge supplements the 2004 Scottish Biodiversity Strategy [94] and together they comprise the overall Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. Scotland's Biodiversity – a Route Map to 2020 sets out the priority work needed to meet the Aichi targets and improve the state of nature in Scotland [95] . In terms of woodland, it specifies targets relating to bringing native woodland to good condition as well as for woodland creation and restoration.
  • At the European level, Scotland abides by the EC Habitats ( 92/43/ EEC) [96] and Birds ( 2009/147/ EC) [97] Directives. The Natura 2000 network is the primary vehicle for meeting collective aims of these Directives [98] , which largely centre on the protection of rare and endangered natural habitats and wild species of European significance. The Natura 2000 network comprises terrestrial and marine Special Protection Areas ( SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation ( SACs). Many of these sites are also underpinned by Sites of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI) [99] , which are designated under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 [100] .
  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act promotes the protection of wildlife, the countryside, National Parks, and the designation of protected areas and public rights of way [101] . It requires tree work and work in woodland are carefully assessed for their potential risks to wildlife.

Soil policy

  • The importance of soil protection has been recognised at the European level in the form of the European Commission's Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection [102] . The Strategy is founded on the principles of preventing further soil degradation and safeguarding its functions, ensuring responsible soil use and management patterns, mitigating the effects of human activities and environmental phenomena on soil condition, as well as restoring degraded soils to an acceptable level.
  • Many of these aims are shared by the Scottish Soil Framework, which places the sustainable management of soils within the context of the economic, social, and environmental needs of Scotland [103] . The Framework identifies 13 key soil outcomes such as protecting soil biodiversity, reducing and remediating soil erosion, and tackling greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Peatland receives particular consideration under the National Peatland Plan, which aims to secure the sustainable use, management, and restoration of peatlands, including priority habitat bog woodland [104] .
  • At present, there is no legislative or policy tool developed specifically for the protection of soil in Scotland [105] . However, designations and their associated management agreements and operations often extend protection to soil as a means of enhancing the biodiversity, geodiversity, landform value, and cultural resources of the site [106] . For example, SSSI are notified to protect areas of land and water that best represent Scotland's natural heritage in terms of its flora, fauna, geology, geomorphology, and/or a mixture of these natural features [107] .

Water policy

  • The EU's Water Framework Directive ( 2000/60/ EC) ( WFD) was introduced as a more comprehensive approach to managing and protecting Europe's water bodies including rivers, lochs, transitional waters, coastal waters, and groundwater resources [108] . The WFD sets out a requirement for an assessment of both chemical and ecological criteria and has a goal of bringing all European waters to 'Good' status.
  • Scotland fulfils its water protection obligations under the WFD primarily through the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 [109] (The WEWS Act) which defines the establishment of River Basin Management Plans [110] , and the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 [111] . The WEWS Act established river basin planning in Scotland, except for the Solway Tweed area which is covered by separate legislation, Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (Solway Tweed River Basin District) Regulations 2004 due to its cross-border nature. Other relevant legislation includes the Pollution Prevention and Control (Scotland) Regulations 2012, which applies specifically to pollution originating from industry discharges [112] .
  • The EU Floods Directive ( 2007/60/ EC) [113] is implemented at the national level through the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 [114] . The Directive mandates the creation of flood risk management plans for all inland and coastal areas at risk of flooding, integrating their development and employment with existing River Basin Management Plans. Flood risk management plans are designed to minimise negative impacts due to flooding on a range of receptors, including human health, the environment, and cultural heritage.

Cultural Heritage policy

  • National cultural heritage objectives are set out in legislation including the Historic Environment (Amendment) (Scotland) Act (2011) [115] . The Act builds upon existing legislation pertaining to ancient monuments and listed buildings as well as providing for the creation of inventories of gardens and designed landscapes, as well as of battlefields. Specifically, the 2011 Act amends the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 [116] and modifies the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 [117] as well as the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation) (Scotland) Act 1997 [118] .
  • Our Place in Time – The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland, published in 2014, lays out a 10 year vision for Scotland's historic environment [119] . The vision is founded upon the fundamental aims of understanding, protecting, and valuing our historic environment, ensuring it continues to benefit Scotland's wellbeing through its cultural, social, environmental, and economic contributions. The Strategy and the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement [120] set out an overarching framework for historic environment policy in Scotland.
  • Other relevant policies include National Planning Framework 3 [121] and Scottish Planning Policy, Historic Environment Circular 1 [122] , and Historic Environment Scotland's Managing Change in the Historic Environment guidance note series [123] .
  • Scotland's Woodlands and the Historic Environment communicates the forestry sector's shared understanding of how forests and woodlands contribute towards Scotland's historic environment and cultural heritage [124] . It outlines the practical measures the forestry sector can take to ensure its activities enhance the stewardship of the historic environment.

Landscape policy

  • The European Landscape Convention strives to promote landscape protection, management, and planning as well as achieve a more concerted approach to addressing landscape issues at the European scale [125] . The Convention presents a highly inclusive definition of landscape, specifying that protection and enhancement activities should apply equally to both 'outstanding' as well as less remarkable or degraded landscapes. This definition encompasses natural, rural, urban, and peri-urban landscapes across land, marine, and inland water environments.
  • At a national level, the role of Scotland's natural heritage and landscapes in informing land use planning is set out in Scottish Planning Policy [126] . Additionally, the National Planning Framework 3 acknowledges the multiple benefits we derive from landscapes, such as improved human health and wellbeing as well as contributions to our quality of life [127] . Both Scottish Planning Policy and National Planning Framework 3 also give significant protection to wild land areas [128] .
  • SNH's Landscape Policy Framework strives to 'safeguard and enhance the distinct identity, the diverse character, and the special qualities of Scotland's landscapes as a whole' [129] .
  • 'The right tree in the right place – Planning for forestry and woodlands' provides Scottish Government advice to planning authorities on planning for forestry and woodlands [130] . Development should consider how existing woodlands factor into local landscape character and value, while also recognising the potential contribution of future woodland creation, restructuring, and in exceptional cases removal, to landscape [131] . The Scottish Government has a number of measures designed to protect woodland. This is principally articulated through the Scottish Government's policy on the control of woodland removal, which places a strong presumption against the removal of any woodland.
  • Scottish Planning Policy states that the planning system should protect and enhance ancient woodland as an important and irreplaceable resource together with other native or long established woods, hedgerows and individual trees. Tree Preservation Orders can be used to protect individual trees and groups of trees considered important for amenity or their cultural or historic interest. Development Plans should identify woodlands of high nature conservation value and include policies for protecting them and enhancing their condition and resilience to climate change.
  • Under the forthcoming Planning Bill, Scottish Planning Policy will be given new statutory status as part of the Development Plan. Scottish Planning Policy is expected to be reviewed in parallel with preparation for National Planning Framework 4, which is expected to commence in 2018 with a view to adoption in 2020.
  • In addition The Scottish Plant Health Strategy [132] sets out the Scottish Government's approach to the protection of the health of plants (agricultural and horticultural crops, plants in parks and gardens, forestry and the natural environment) in Scotland.


Email: FutureForestry@gov.scot

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