Ministerial foreword to consultation
The management of forests, woodlands and trees in Scotland over the last one hundred years is a significant success story. But it is a success that too few people have recognised. As Cabinet Secretary responsible for forestry, I have great optimism and ambition for this economically and environmentally crucial land-use. I am particularly pleased that within a year of taking office, the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 was passed - the first forestry Act passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Act sets the framework for completing the devolution of forestry to Scotland.
This Forestry Strategy is an essential element in supporting delivery of that framework and is a clear commitment in this year's Programme for Government. It will set out our forestry ambitions and our long-term strategic approach to modern, productive, sustainable forestry.
Forestry today is much changed. The practices of 50 years ago have been replaced by the internationally recognised principles of sustainable forest management.
These principles, which underpin every aspect of forestry in Scotland, are also challenging the dated concept of 'competing' land interests and are helping to build a culture of complementary land management to get the best from our land.
This is very much at the heart of our long-term vision for forestry. It is a vision that aims to inspire and stimulate action in a shared national endeavour, to sustainably grow and manage this valuable resource - to make the most of it, to protect it and to enhance it such that it meets our needs and the needs of the Scottish people in future.
As we know, diverse and versatile forests and woodlands are located across Scotland. Serving rural and urban communities, the many and varied benefits they deliver are well documented: they sustain our unique wildlife; make a substantial contribution to the national and local economies; help mitigate the impacts of climate change; improve our quality of life; and stimulate our children to learn and thrive.
It is our collective obligation to ensure that future generations continue to benefit from this sustainable forest resource. That is why we have designed this draft strategy to meet three primary objectives over the next 10 years to: increase forestry's contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth; protect and enhance our valuable natural assets to contribute to a healthy and high quality environment; and use our forest and woodland resources to empower more people to improve their health, well-being and life chances.
I am grateful to those who have already contributed to the development of our thinking and I would strongly encourage everyone with an interest in forestry to respond to this consultation. I wish, in advance, to thank you for taking the time to do so.
Cabinet Secretary Rural Economy