Publication - Consultation paper

Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019-2029 draft: strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

Published: 22 Nov 2018

Findings of the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the consultation draft of Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019-2029.

120 page PDF

2.5 MB

120 page PDF

2.5 MB

Contents
Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019-2029 draft: strategic environmental assessment (SEA)
2 The Forestry Strategy 2019-29 context and overview

120 page PDF

2.5 MB

2 The Forestry Strategy 2019-29 context and overview

2.1 Main policy principles / common themes

2.1.1 A Forestry Strategy was first published in 2000, and established a framework of guiding principles for developing forestry in Scotland. These principles were based on the established economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable forest management (SFM). This current Strategy[15] was published in 2006 and set the framework for taking forestry forward through the first half of this century and beyond. It set a vision that "by the second half of this century, people are benefiting widely from Scotland's trees, woodlands and forests, actively engaging with and looking after them for the use and enjoyment of generations to come. The forestry resource has become a central part of our culture, economy and environment".

2.1.2 In 2011, the Scottish Government (SG) concluded that the existing Strategy remained 'fit for purpose' and a revision was not required. When the second Land Use Strategy (2016-2021) was published, a commitment was made to review the Strategy to ensure it aligned with relevant SG policies and priorities. This commitment to produce a new Forestry Strategy was carried through to the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill Act 2018 ('The Act').

2.1.3 Getting The Best From Our Land: A Land Use Strategy for Scotland 2016 - 2021 sets a framework for a more unified and strategic approach to land use within Scotland[16]. Its fundamental principles of "long-term, well integrated, sustainable land use delivering multiple benefits for all society" are consolidated across the management strategies for a range of sectors including forestry. The Land Use Strategy noted the key role of forestry as a multi-purpose land use and identified a review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy as a priority for delivering its Vision, Objectives and Principle.

2.1.4 Another key environmental policy is the Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan 2018 (CCP). The plan establishes the government's annual woodland creation target (currently 10,000 hectares per year rising to 15,000 hectares from 2025) and through this longer-term ambition to increase Scotland's forest and woodland cover to 21% of the total land area by 2032. The plan states that "these new woodlands will absorb greenhouse gas emissions, as well as potentially helping to mitigate flood risk and improve water quality, improve biodiversity and provide opportunities for people to improve their health and wellbeing. They will also provide confidence for the forest products industry to continue to invest in Scotland and create new jobs, through the ongoing production of sustainable raw materials." The plan reiterates the commitment that these new forests will be created according to the principles of SFM using the UK Forestry Standard as the bench mark for good practice.

2.2 Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act (2018)

2.2.1 The Act places a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote SFM and Scottish Ministers must have regard to this duty when performing their regulatory functions under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act (FLM(S)A) 2018. The FLM(S)A also places a duty on Scottish Ministers to prepare a forestry strategy. The draft Strategy has been prepared in line with the Act (see Appendix A) including the requirement to set out Scottish Ministers' objectives, priorities and policies with respect to the promotion of SFM.

2.3 Outline and objectives of the Forestry Strategy 2019-29

2.3.1 The new Strategy sets out Scotland's long-term ambition for the sustainable growth of forestry, to increase its already substantial economic, social and environmental contribution to Scotland.

2.3.2 The Strategy covers the use, expansion, management and protection of all Scotland's public and privately owned forests and woodlands and the products and services they provide.

2.3.3 The 50-year vision which underpins the Forestry Strategy is: Scotland will have more forests and woodlands, which will be sustainably managed as a much greater part of the nation's natural capital, providing a resilient, high quality and growing resource that supports a strong economy, a thriving environment, and healthy and empowered communities.

2.3.4 This vision is based on:

  • A long-term commitment to sustainable modern forestry as a key land-use in Scotland;
  • A sustained programme of woodland expansion;
  • Increasing the already substantial economic, environmental and social benefits of forestry to Scotland by addressing key challenges and harnessing opportunities;
  • Promoting multi-purpose forestry and the sustainable management of Scotland's forests and woodlands;
  • A commitment to the principle of the right tree, in the right place for the right purpose;
  • Integrating forestry with other land-uses and businesses;
  • Supporting the delivery of the Scottish Government's purpose and National Performance Framework[17].

2.3.5 Therefore, this draft Strategy focuses on both the sustainable management of existing forests and the establishment of new woodlands, to help realise our long-term vision for forestry in Scotland.

2.3.6 To support the 50-year vision, the draft Forestry Strategy identified three primary objectives for the Strategy to deliver over the next 10 years:

1. Increase the contribution of forests and woodlands to Scotland's sustainable and inclusive economic growth;

2. Protect and enhance Scotland's valuable natural assets, ensuring that our forests and woodlands are resilient and contribute to a healthy and high quality environment;

3. Use Scotland's forest and woodland resources to empower more people to improve their health, well-being and life chances.

2.3.7 These objectives largely cover the three pillars of sustainability namely, Economy, Society and the Environment. The Strategy has identified the main priorities likely to have the greatest impact on achieving the draft objectives over the next 10 years. The predicted environmental effects of the 10 priorities are the focus of this assessment.

2.3.8 All of the priorities address more than one objective. The ordering and numbering of the priorities below does not imply any ranking.

1. Promote and develop the concept of sustainable forest management as it applies to Scotland.

2. Sustainably expand the area of all types of woodlands and forests across Scotland and ensure harvested sites are replanted appropriately.

3. Ensure wood fibre availability from Scotland's forests is predictable and increases over time.

4. Protect forests and woodlands from damage caused by new or existing pests and diseases, promote the sustainable management of wild deer and build resilience to support adaptation to climate change.

5. Increase community ownership and management of forests and woodlands.

6. Increase efficiency, productivity and the value generated from forest products and services and help develop forestry's role in creating a low-carbon economy, by supporting technological innovation, improving the capacity and skills of those working in the sector, and developing existing and new markets.

7. Increase the natural capital value of Scotland's woodlands and forests by improving the condition of native woodlands and forests, and increasing the positive impacts of forest and woodland management on biodiversity, air, water, soils, flood management, landscapes and the historic environment, mitigating the risks of negative impacts.

8. Increase the use of Scotland's forests and woodlands to improve health and well-being, help people better understand forestry, and support wider Scottish Government activity to help children become confident and resilient members of Scottish society.

9. Enhance forestry's contribution to sustaining viable rural communities and increase the positive impact of forest and woodland management on other businesses, especially in agriculture and tourism.

10. Increase the positive contribution that urban forestry makes in Scotland's towns and cities.

2.3.9 The Strategy does not set out the actions which will be required to deliver these priorities. Rather, the delivery of this Strategy will require action across a range of private and public partners which includes the Scottish Government, its agencies and other public authorities. In particular, the activities of the two new forestry agencies – Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland – will be aligned and focused on the implementation and delivery of this Strategy. Where applicable, the plans and programmes associated with this activity will themselves be subject to consideration in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005.

2.4 Sustainable Forest Management

2.4.1 The principles behind SFM underpin the draft Forestry Strategy and the delivery of its objectives and priorities. These principles have been agreed internationally. In 1993, SFM was defined as:

The stewardship and use of forest lands that maintains biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential to fulfil now and in the future relevant ecological, economic and social functions at local, national and global levels and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems"[18].

2.4.2 The Scottish and other governments in the UK have adopted this definition and, along with relevant legislation and other good practice, have incorporated it into the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). These are also the principles upon which Scotland's modern forestry legislation, practice and related policies are built.

2.5 The UK Forestry Standard – the benchmark for sustainable practice

2.5.1 The UKFS sets out the Government's approach to SFM, to help inform forest planning decisions which involve all forests, and to ensure that international agreements and conventions are applied. It is reviewed every five years with the input of forestry sector and environmental stakeholders and it provides the basis for regulating forestry activities, including approvals for felling licences. In addition, payment of government grants for woodland creation and forest management is conditional on meeting the requirements of the UKFS and its supporting guidelines:

  • Forests and Biodiversity
  • Forests and Climate Change
  • Forests and Historic Environment
  • Forests and Landscape
  • Forests and People
  • Forests and Soil
  • Forests and Water

2.5.2 The UKFS also provides the basis for independent certification of woodland management through the internationally recognised Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) system and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In Scotland and the rest of the UK, the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) is used to demonstrate compliance with both the FSC and the PEFC; the UKWAS gives consumers confidence that products from certified forests come from sustainably managed sources. In 2018, 58% of Scotland's forests were certified against the UKWAS.

2.5.3 The delivery of the Forestry Strategy will promote the principles of SFM. The creation and management of forests and woodlands should meet the requirements of the UKFS – this is a pre-requisite for Government funding.

2.5.4 The key elements of the Scottish Government's policy and regulatory framework established to promote SFM are set out in Figure 1.

2.6 The Wider Regulatory Framework

2.6.1 The Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 require that individual forestry projects take account of any significant environmental effects and the opportunities to avoid, prevent or reduce such effects, before a consent is granted.

2.6.2 The Forestry Strategy supports the appropriate development of infrastructure and built development to deliver on its objectives and priorities. Though forestry does not fall within the definition of development, the buildings, structures and access tracks associated with forest operations and woodland use may require planning permission from the relevant planning authority for the area. In relation to this the planning system has its own requirements in place regarding the consideration of any environmental impacts arising, including through the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Scotland Regulations 2017.

2.6.3 Where appropriate, adherence to the requirements of the UKFS and the wider regulatory framework is taken into account as 'assumed mitigation' and factored into the assessment of the significance of effects. Table 2 summarises the key measures and controls relevant to the Forestry Strategy against each of the individual Strategy priorities. In addition to the UKFS, these include:

  • The Scottish planning system (e.g. associated built development);
  • The Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 that requires that new forestry projects take account of any significant environmental effects;
  • Plant Health (Forestry) legislation provides a regulatory framework to protect Scotland's forest and woodlands from the spread of pests and diseases and facilitate the trade in wood products.

Table 2: Assumed mitigation measures under each priority

Priority

Assumed Mitigation

Responsibility

1. Promote and develop the concept of sustainable forest management as it applies to Scotland.

UKFS (includes related legislation, i.e. Forestry EIA etc.)

Scottish Government

2. Sustainably expand the area of all types of woodlands and forests across Scotland and ensure harvested sites are replanted appropriately.

UKFS

Scottish Government

Private companies

Land owners and Managers

Local Authorities

3. Ensure wood fibre availability from Scotland's forests is predictable and increases over time.

UKFS

Scottish Government

Private companies

Land owners and managers

4. Protect forests and woodlands from damage caused by new or existing pests and diseases, promote the sustainable management of wild deer and build resilience to support adaptation to climate change.

UKFS

Plant Health (Forestry) legislation

Scottish Government

Private companies

Land owners and managers

5. Increase community ownership and management of forests and woodlands.

UKFS

Scottish Government

Community organisations

Non-governmental organisations

6. Increase efficiency, productivity and the value generated from forest products and services and help develop forestry's role in creating a low-carbon economy, by supporting technological innovation, improving the capacity and skills of those working in the sector, and developing existing and new markets.

UKFS

Planning system and / or relevant energy consents?

Scottish Government

Private companies

Planning Authorities

Local Authorities

Professional bodies

7. Increase the natural capital value of Scotland's woodlands and forests by improving the condition of native woodlands and forests, and increasing the positive impacts of forest and woodland management on biodiversity, air, water, soils, flood management, landscapes and the historic environment, mitigating the risks of negative impacts.

UKFS

Scottish Government

Private companies

Land owners and managers

Non-governmental organisations

Environmental regulators

Local Authorities

8. Increase the use of Scotland's forests and woodlands to improve health and well-being, help people better understand forestry, and support wider Scottish Government activity to help children become confident and resilient members of Scottish society.

UKFS

Scottish Government

Forest users

Forest Owners and managers

Local Authorities

Non-governmental organisations

9. Enhance forestry's contribution to sustaining viable rural communities and increase the positive impact of forest and woodland management on other businesses, especially in agriculture and tourism.

UKFS

Planning system

Scottish Government

Planning Authorities

Local Authorities

Forest users

Forest owners and managers

Private companies/Users

Non-governmental organisations

10. Increase the positive contribution that urban forestry makes in Scotland's towns and cities.

UKFS

Planning system

Scottish Government

Planning Authorities

Forest owners and managers

2.7 Relationship with other relevant plans, programmes and strategies (PPS)

2.7.1 The 2005 Act requires Responsible Authorities to define the plan's broader policy context, highlighting any relevant environmental protection objectives that may influence its development and implementation. A wide range of environmental protection and improvement objectives are set out within existing legislation, policies, plans, programmes and strategies at the EU, UK and Scottish levels. An analysis of the relationship between the Forestry Strategy and these PPS is required as part of the SEA process. It is important to identify plans that will influence the Forestry Strategy and those that will be influenced by it.

2.7.2 An overview of the relationships between the Forestry Strategy and other PPS is provided in Appendix B.

Figure 1: Policy and regulatory framework for promoting Sustainable Forest Management

Figure 1: Policy and regulatory framework for promoting Sustainable Forest Management


Contact

Email: Amy.Nicolson@forestry.gsi.gov.uk