8 Reasons for selecting the Forestry Strategy as adopted
8.1.1 The 2005 Act requires that the Scottish Government identify, describe and evaluate the likely significant effects on the environment of any reasonable alternatives to the draft strategy, taking into account its objectives and geographical scope.
8.1.2 The extent to which alternatives could be considered 'reasonable' was influenced by the existing legislative and policy context the document must reference and align with, and the current Government commitments and targets such as the woodland creation target in the Climate Change Plan.
8.1.3 The draft strategy was developed to articulate the Scottish Government's ambition to expand Scotland's forests and woodlands to deliver greater social, environmental and economic benefits; promote SFM; help deliver the aims of the Scottish Government's National Performance Framework; and, to meet the requirements of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 (FLM(S)A). The Act outlines the broad content of the Strategy (e.g. setting out a vision, objectives, priorities and policies etc.), as well as how it should be prepared and consulted on.
8.1.4 During the process to develop the draft strategy, the Scottish Government considered reasonable alternatives including the 'do nothing scenario'. Doing nothing was not an option as Scottish Ministers were required to develop a new strategy under the FLM(S)A).
8.1.5 Another alternative explored during the development of the draft strategy was to structure the strategy in a different way by grouping the draft priorities under specific objectives (economic, environmental and social). This was not considered feasible because it might inadvertently foster a siloed approach to delivery, undermining the principles of sustainable forest management and hindering the delivery of multi-purpose forestry.
8.1.6 As previously mentioned, a number of respondents to the consultation on the draft strategy suggested an additional alternative of applying ranking within the strategy – ranking of objectives, issues and priorities. This has been considered, however, in recognition of the interdependencies of the three components of sustainable forest management – economy, environment and society – ranking has not been introduced.
8.1.7 In the finalisation of the Strategy, as previously detailed, the number of priorities was reduced from ten in the draft strategy to six in the final Strategy. The new priorities do not include any additions that would necessitate a further SEA to be carried out. Instead they are broader and more cross-cutting, better reflecting the principles of SFM.
Email: Bob Frost