4 The findings of the SEA
4.1.1 The Environmental Report details the conclusions and recommendations of the assessment on the consultation draft strategy. The key themes drawn from the assessment are discussed below:
- The SEA findings concluded that the draft strategy, with its core purpose of promoting and supporting the implementation of sustainable forest management (SFM) principles, would have overall positive effects. Cumulative effects were expected to be positive over all of the environmental topics.
- Where appropriate, adherence to the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and existing environmental regulation and mitigation was taken into account as 'assumed mitigation', and factored into the assessment of the significance of effects. In addition to the UKFS, this included relevant requirements of the planning system (where applicable to associated built development); the Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 and Plant Health (Forestry) legislation.
- The SEA concluded that there could be potential for some mixed effects in relation to the historic environment; landscape; and, to a lesser extent, biodiversity, air quality and soil. Mitigation measures for any potential negative impacts were proposed in the Environmental Report.
- It is anticipated that the outcomes of the SEA and in particular key potential effects, can be monitored as an integral part of the monitoring of the Forestry Strategy itself.
4.1.2 A key recommendation that came out of the assessment process was the re-affirmation of the importance of the promotion and adherence to the principles of SFM. The draft strategy had these principles embedded in its vision and ambitions and stated that the UKFS is a key requirement for the associated delivery of forest and woodland creation, management and protection. In light of the SEA findings and the consultation responses, the finalised Strategy has provided a clear commitment to this approach by including the following priority for action: "Ensuring forests and woodlands are sustainably managed".5 How the opinions expressed have been taken into account
Email: Bob Frost