Publication - Consultation paper

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

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
6 Assessment findings and recommendations

120 page PDF

2.5 MB

6 Assessment findings and recommendations

6.1 Introduction

6.1.1 The draft Forestry Strategy was assessed for its environmental effects and likely significance upon the environmental baseline. The Forestry Strategy Priorities were assessed against all of the SEA topics using the SEA objectives and indicator questions using the methodology set out in Section 4.

6.2 Technical Issues Encountered

6.2.1 The 2005 Act requires a description of how the assessment was undertaken including any difficulties encountered in compiling the required information. These uncertainties and assumptions are outlined below in terms of information compilation and assessment of priorities.

6.2.2 Some of the difficulties encountered in compiling the information reflect the challenge of measuring current performance and identifying trends. Key difficulties include:

  • Data sets change over time, for example by using different criteria and baselines. This means that it can be difficult to accurately assess trends.
  • Similarly, it can be difficult to ensure that there are not anomalies in the data caused by external factors (for example weather conditions affecting air quality data).

6.2.3 The high-level nature of the Strategy means that specific delivery actions are not included. However, as set out in Section 2.6, existing regulatory frameworks will manage impacts of the Strategy as it is taken forward, and the potential for environmental effects arising from individual forestry proposals will continue to be assessed and mitigated, where appropriate through existing mechanisms, including through the EIA process, application of standards and guidelines and consenting where relevant.

6.2.4 The assessment of each priority assumes that the management of existing forests and woodlands and new afforestation will meet the requirements of the UKFS which defines the requirements for the sustainable management of forests in the UK including Scotland.

6.3 Assessment of potential environmental effects

6.3.1 The assessment of the Forestry Strategy against the SEA objectives topics (and corresponding indicator questions) is presented below for each Forestry Strategy Priority and supporting text. A scoring matrix is provided in Table 7 showing the magnitude of significance covered by each score.

Table 7: Assessment scoring

Scoring System:

Major Positive

++

Minor Positive

+

Insignificant or No Impacts

o

Minor Negative

-

Major Negative

- -

Mixed

+/-

Uncertain

?

Within the assessment tables, the terms indicate the following timeframes:

Short Term

Medium Term

Long Term

0-9 years

9-50 years

50+ years

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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

Likely Environmental Effects

Priority 1 involves promoting awareness amongst communities, the workforce and forestry managers of the concept of SFM. SFM ensures production of all forest and woodland benefits is maintained over the long term via a balance of the environmental, economic and social functions of forests and woodlands. The UKFS sets out the Scottish Government's approach to SFM and the requirements are divided into legal requirements and good forestry practice requirements. Requirements are categorised into different elements of SFM, with supporting guidelines. The elements are General Forestry Practice, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Historic Environment, Landscape, People, Soil and Water. From an environmental standpoint there are a number of relevant requirements including:

  • appropriate protection and conservation of designated sites, habitats and species including protection or improvement of biodiversity value;
  • landscape context and designations to be taken into account in woodland creation;
  • avoidance of woodland creation in deep peat soils;
  • consideration given to involving people in development of forestry proposals.
  • identification, protection and conservation management of historic environment features and sites of special cultural significance.

Under the new regulatory regime, SFM forms the basis for all decisions taken by the regulator: Scottish Ministers will have a duty to promote SFM and in taking decisions and determining applications as a regulator, will have to have regard to that duty. This is a new requirement placed on Scottish Ministers, in section 27 of the new Act, to have regard to their duty to promote sustainable forest management when making decisions. Intrinsic to SFM is the protection of the environment as a whole and by promoting the approach to SFM, it is predicted that this priority will have a major positive effect over the long term across all topics from empowering the workforce through to having positive secondary effects on climatic factors (due to associated carbon sequestration) to allowing appropriate protection and conservation of designated sites (biodiversity and historic environment).

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • It is assumed that this implies learning and development of the workforce, engagement and communication on the concept of SFM with stakeholders and interested parties.

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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

++

++

+/-

++

++

++

+/-

+/-

Likely Environmental Effects

Priority 2 includes helping to deliver the Scottish Government's Climate Change Plan including the annual woodland creation target with an expected major positive effect on material assets. This is likely to have a major positive effect on climatic factors by reducing GHG emissions through increased CO2 sequestration. The potential negative effect of releasing carbon from soils when establishing new woodland is usually outweighed by the amount of carbon sequestered by the forest, transferred into the soil and then locked up in wood products (hence this has been scored as a major positive effect)[88].

The creation of sustainably managed forests (material assets) via the use of SFM principles can have associated medium to long term major positive effects on soil, water, biodiversity, flora and fauna, human health and wellbeing.

Soil can be detrimentally affected by inappropriate ground preparation techniques such as use of heavy machinery and deep-level cultivation can change the soil structure, causing erosion and run-off. Poor forestry practices on carbon rich soils can result in a series of small increases (or a cumulative moderate increase) in soil contamination due to the transport of compounds (fuel oils, lubricants, pesticides and other chemicals, sewage sludge, and inorganic nutrients, for example) in run-off. Forestry operations that drain carbon-rich soils can result in a series of small increases (or a cumulative moderate increase) in the amount of organic matter lost from soil, which in turn can reduce its value as a carbon store (climatic factors). However, since the principles of SFM will be employed in the implementation of this priority the effects are expected to be of major positive magnitude in terms of increasing nutrients and fertility.

It is predicted that expanding the area of all types of woodlands and forests will contribute positively to improving air quality but it can also have short term negative effects in the form of emissions from forestry-related operations associated with the creation of woodlands. Therefore the impact on this topic is predicted to be mixed.

The effects of land use change on the wider environment could be mixed, depending on the scale and nature of changes. For example, afforestation can have positive or negative impacts on the landscape, historic environment, biodiversity, and patterns of recreational use (population and human health). These effects cannot be fully defined at this scale as they depend on detailed or site specific matters such as siting and location and the practices used to create new forests, for example the potential for afforestation to obscure landforms and rock outcrops as well as alter the recognised character of cultural and historic landscapes. It is assumed that potential negative impacts will be avoided where afforestation schemes are appropriately designed and delivered to meet the requirements of the UKFS. Local forestry and woodland strategies also identify the most appropriate locations for woodlands to maximise the delivery of public benefits and minimise adverse environmental and landscape impacts. In addition, specific woodland creation proposals must meet the requirements of the statutory processes for assessing impact on designated habitats or the wider environment (e.g. Habitats Regulations Appraisal, Environmental Impact Assessment). Therefore it has been predicted that the effects of implementing this priority on landscape and historic environment will be of a mixed nature.

Uncertainties/assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • Assessment of this priority assumes that afforestation and replanting (restocking) will meet the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard which defines the requirements for the sustainable management of forests in the UK including Scotland and all relevant statutory requirements including Habitats Regulations Appraisal and Environmental Impact Assessment.

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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

+

o

o

+

o

++

++

+/-

+/-

Likely Environmental Effects

Ensuring wood fibre availability can stimulate further rural development can bring major positive material asset benefits across the short, medium and long term and a minor positive effect for the population. Exposure to pollution (e.g. dust) or nuisance (e.g. noise from transportation) can have a negative effect but would be addressed through mitigation. In addition, the infrastructure necessary to maintain a long term supply of wood fibre needs to be sustainably managed (in line with the Scottish Government Economic Strategy) to ensure that people and biodiversity in the vicinity are not adversely affected. Based on the assumption that this will be delivered following SFM principles, exposure to pollution will be avoided and the infrastructure necessary to maintain a long term supply of wood fibre will be sustainably managed, it is predicted that there will be a neutral effect for biodiversity.

Improving the predictability of wood fibre availability could result in increased production of timber from Scotland's forests and woodlands. This priority has the potential to have a detrimental effect on habitats and species (biodiversity) as well as soil biodiversity and stability and in theory this could lead to secondary negative impacts in terms of deterioration of water quality, potentially conflicting with RBMP objectives depending on the scale of the impact. However, since the implementation of this priority will be in line with the requirements of the UKFS , it is therefore assumed that the effect of this priority on soil and water will be neutral as a result of implementing this priority.

Increasing availability could also promote the use of locally grown timber as a building material, which could benefit climatic factors (major positive) and air quality (minor positive) by replacing more carbon intensive materials, particularly if combined with the initiatives described in priority 6. However, there is potential for negative effects on material assets if an increase in the scale and intensity of forestry operations place unsustainable pressures on existing infrastructure such as transport routes. The consideration of landscape is subjective and adverse impacts on landscape could also arise but it is assumed that new planting will be planned and designed according to the requirements of the UKFS. In some cases, changes to land use and landscape could be positive, such as in the rehabilitation of vacant and derelict land and in improving the appearance of transport corridors. These considerations also apply to the setting of the historic environment and hence both these topics are predicted to experience mixed effects.

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • Assessment of this priority assumes that the creation, management and harvesting of productive forests and woodlands will meet the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard which defines the requirements for the sustainable management of forests in the UK including Scotland.

Priority 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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

+

++

+

o

+

++

++

+

+

Likely Environmental Effects

Fulfilment of Priority 4 in connection with climate adaptation (i.e. planting diverse species that are well adapted to the site) would result in more resilient stock and a major positive effect on climatic factors. This would provide an improvement in the quality of woodland as well as timber products reaching market (material assets) which is considered to be a major positive effect.

As mentioned in the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme[89] (SCCAP), plant pests have the potential to have a greater impact on livelihoods in Scotland compared to other parts of the UK. This is due to the relatively larger rural land use sector in Scotland and the importance of the natural landscape to tourism. Therefore, prioritisation of their management is likely to result in benefits to population and human health (considered to be of minor positive magnitude). However, as stated in the Plant Health Strategy[90], it needs to be recognised that plant health actions can have unintended consequences (e.g. such as on biodiversity) as well as positive impacts.

Given the uncertainty around specific impacts arising from climate in the long term, as well as the diverse views on adaptation methods (as mentioned in SCCAP), using a range of management and restocking strategies should help to increase resilience by accounting for various impact and implementation scenarios. Examples include the use of Continuous Cover Forestry, different thinning and spacing regimes, and diversified plantings. Any emerging threats (e.g. pests) may then only affect a smaller proportion of the total forest investment.

Whilst investment in deer management provides jobs, supports local communities, and preserves the forestry asset (material assets), the unsustainable management of deer populations may negatively impact on woodlands and forests. It can also lead to an increase in road traffic accidents. Wild deer are an integral part of Scotland's biodiversity. However, changes in their numbers can disrupt the balance between natural woodland processes such as regeneration and the suppression of scrub encroachment[91]. Using an ecosystems approach in managing deer can have benefits for both estate managers and the wider population, as well as for the environment at large.

Adopting an integrated, evidence-based approach to pest and disease management essentially takes into consideration biodiversity (major positive), soil and water (minor positive), and balances these factors to give a net positive impact on the environment over the medium term.

Implementation of this priority would prevent damage caused by herbivores and deer to wider environmental receptors such as water and carbon stores locked in soil and peatland (climatic factors). Managing wild deer will also have the effect of minimising the volume of tree stock requiring replanting and hence reducing negative impacts on soil. It could also support a diversification of species planted and encouraged through natural regeneration as more palatable[92] tree species are often disproportionately damaged by high deer densities.

Protecting forests and woodlands is seen to be protecting historic environment (ancient woodland) and landscape and hence has been assessed as a minor positive effect as a result of this priority.

It is considered that this priority will not have a significant effect on air quality.

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • This priority is directly linked to implementing climate change adaptation measures.
  • Scoring assumes that good practice methods will be used in managing the impact of pest and diseases according to the requirements of the UKFS.

Priority 5: Increase community ownership and management of forests and woodlands

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

o

Likely Environmental Effects

There is potential for a major positive effect on population and human health in terms of contributing to increased community empowerment in the short to long term. Also, improved awareness of the environment can have an indirect yet positive effect over the long term in preserving all aspects of the environment for example if the local community has ownership of its surroundings and implements SFM principles. It is considered that changing ownership will not change the effect on the other environmental topics and this effect is therefore considered to be neutral.

Uncertainties/Assumptions:

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • Assumes that community woodlands will be managed to meet the requirements of the UKFS.

Priority 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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

+

+

+/-

+

++

++

o

o

Likely Environmental Effects

In terms of benefits to the workforce, this priority (6) is predicted to have a major positive effect on population and human health in the short to long term. Specifically, this priority is likely to yield health and safety benefits (via improvements in technology, for example) as well as facilitating job creation and the development of a skilled workforce. This, in turn, can contribute to long term investment and potential for positive effects via the implementation of sustainable practices in the timber industry into the future (a major positive effect on material assets) as well as the provision of a sustainable supply of timber for economic development.

Supporting innovation and emerging technologies has the potential to result in a major positive effect on material assets if such technologies support the concept of a circular economy and hence minimise waste generation. There are also likely to be secondary benefits for material assets and the landscape from minimising waste from the forestry sector. Effects on landscape would be largely neutral although displacement of waste to landfill could be minimised with secondary benefits in terms of reduced transport emissions and energy consumption during processing (climatic factors). In general, growing forests more sustainably via a more efficient supply chain will serve to minimise any negative effects of forestry operations on the environment.

Meeting increasing demand for wood fibre products (material assets) by afforestation and increasing the use of timber in construction has the potential to reduce GHG emissions and have a major positive impact on climatic factors. Additional benefits are likely to accrue to biodiversity, soil, and water if the timber is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Forests can help to control soil erosion and help create new habitats. Potential local negative effects may arise via increased emissions from forestry activities (air).

Increasing productivity and encouraging a broader range of markets is likely to increase profitability and encourage resilience of the forestry sector in Scotland (material assets). This will help provide funding for forest owners and managers to support restructuring existing forests in line with UKFS guidelines, improving soil stability, water quality, and biodiversity in the longer term (minor positive). Additionally, new woodland areas should be planned and designed to meet the requirements of the UKFS, which would again minimise potential negative impacts on soil stability, water quality, and biodiversity during planting and harvesting.

Promoting the use of wood-based and non-timber forest products could have significant positive impacts on a variety of environmental topics. For example, substituting much higher embodied energy building materials in construction with timber–based products and systems can have significant benefits in terms of carbon storage and emissions reduction. In certain circumstances, some panelised timber systems can lead to a reduction in construction times and overall material use such as reduced foundations.[93] The recycling of wood products can also lead to a reduction in waste.

In terms of low carbon innovation this priority is seen to extend to the promotion of all raw materials derived from forests in order to reduce carbon emissions (climatic factors), including the use of timber in carbon neutral buildings and the use of bio-refining to create alternative materials. This is linked to increasing the value of previously valueless forest products (such as spruce needle refining) and enhancing the value of materials perceived to be low value (like turning low grade pulp wood into glulam, for example), benefiting material assets by enhancing the efficiency of resource use and reducing waste production.

Promoting a transition towards greater generation and use of low carbon heat will help to reduce GHG emissions (climatic factors) and will have associated benefits for air quality (hence a mixed effect overall) and population and human health. Wood fuel for biomass heating is a growing use of forestry resources[94] (material assets). The effect on the historic environment is considered to be neutral.

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • It is assumed that new technologies will improve sustainability, by maximising resource efficiency (improving the sustainable output of forests) and helping address issues such as the impact and cost of timber transport.
  • This assessment assumes restructuring of existing woodlands will meet the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard which defines the requirements for the sustainable management of forests in the UK including Scotland. It also assumes that adverse environmental effects will be managed by following good practice promoted in the UK Forestry Standard and associated guidelines.

Priority 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 whilst mitigating the risks of negative impacts

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

++

Likely Environmental Effects

It is predicted that this priority will have a major positive effect across all topics. Enhancing woodlands and increasing the amount of woodland cover including delivery of the Scottish Government's woodland creation targets (as set out in the Climate Change Plan) is likely to have a major positive effect on climatic factors by reducing GHG emissions through increased CO2 sequestration as well as positively affecting the health and wellbeing of the population. It is predicted that trees and woodlands will be significantly affected as a result of climate change[95]. Coupled with the long time frame associated with this sector, it is assumed that that mitigation and adaptation[96] to climate change is implicit within this priority.

Increasing the area of sustainably managed forests through both afforestation and improvements to the management of existing forests (a major positive effect on material assets), can have associated major positive effects on soil, water, biodiversity, flora and fauna, human health and wellbeing and the historic environment.

The restoration and expansion of native woodland is a priority of the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity. Native woodlands hold internationally important populations of priority and protected species which benefit when woodland areas are suitably protected. Enhancing native woodlands will also benefit a wider range of species (biodiversity) and if designed appropriately add to the quality of the landscape.

Further, Scotland's forests and woodlands support a disproportionately high share of biodiversity[97] and the role that the forestry sector can play in increasing habitat diversity in support of climate change resilience is recognised in the 2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity. It is considered that this priority will result in major positive effects on biodiversity. Secondary benefits for population and human health may also arise through increased flood management and could help to support communities in managing and improving resilience to these events.

There is the potential for beneficial effects on human health and wellbeing to arise through the increased provision of accessible woodland space which can be used for recreational purposes and can enhance the environmental quality of urban areas in particular. Improving air quality (predicted to be a major positive effect) will have a knock on effect in terms of reducing human exposure to poor air quality, thereby reducing the likelihood of air quality-related adverse health effects. Improving soil quality increases the viability of natural ecosystems which filter pollutants and thereby contributes to a better quality living environment. Woodlands and forests also contain substantial carbon in their soil and vegetation, and globally are hugely important in regulating carbon, water, and energy cycles. Secondary benefits for population and human health may also arise through improved flood management and could help to support communities in improving their resilience to these events. Natural flood management techniques can also provide further benefits for biodiversity.

The effect of this priority on landscape is considered to be of major positive magnitude. Ensuring forestry activities protect and where possible enhance significant aspects of the landscape and historic environment will also provide indirect benefits for soil if suitable land management principles are applied. Benefits are considered likely for population and human health as Scotland's historic and cultural environment and landscape play a key role in contributing to our sense of place and providing opportunities for recreation, with associated benefits in terms of increased physical fitness and improved mental health. An estimated 95% of the Scottish adult population agree or strongly agree that woodlands in Scotland are an important part of the country's natural and historic environment[98]. However, whilst tourism, leisure, and sport can improve understanding and enjoyment of the natural environment, increased visitor numbers can also place pressure on these resources if not managed sustainably. Enhancing and maintaining public access, undertaking conservation management initiatives, and considering the presentation of significant features should all be included as relevant considerations in the context of forest planning[99].

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • It is assumed the key actions associated with this priority will involve the sustainable creation of new woodlands, and sustainable management of all existing forests and woodlands in line with the UKFS.
  • Assessment of this priority assumes consideration of climate mitigation.

Priority 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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

+/-

+/-

+

+

+

+

+/-

+/-

Likely Environmental Effects

There is potential for a major positive effect on population and human health in terms of spending time outdoors and alleviating pressures on health services. The health benefits of greenspace are well documented. It provides space for outdoor activities, a chance to connect with nature, and a place to socialise (population and human health). Further, improved awareness of and respect for the environment can have a positive effect over the long term in preserving all aspects of the environment including air, water, climatic factors and material assets.

Woodlands are becoming increasingly popular for recreational visitors with over 63% of the adults in Scotland having visited a woodland in the last year[100]. However, increased numbers of visitors could place pressure on the natural environment if not managed in a sustainable way. For example, visitors could trample vegetation, create noise, disturb wildlife, and leave litter. Some of these pressures could extend to historic environment features located in or near forests and woodlands and would require appropriate management. Therefore it is considered that an overall mixed effect is anticipated for biodiversity, soil, landscape and historic environment. Given established mitigation including the Scottish Access Code, and scope for visitor management, any adverse effects are not expected to be major overall.

Access to outdoor spaces and opportunities to connect with the natural environment can have both physical and mental benefits for wellbeing and can also provide a sense of identity and place[101]. This interaction with woodlands can increase the population's awareness of the goods that are derived from it and increase awareness of the importance of maintaining good ecosystem health. This can have an indirect yet major positive effect over the long term in preserving all aspects of the environment.

Woodlands offer a rich opportunity for children to play, in an environment that is more challenging and diverse than any other type of greenspace. Behavioural and emotional problems in children, such as attention deficit disorder, may be improved by exposure to woodland and research has reported that children engaged in woodlands settings are more likely to interact and socialise as part of a group[102]. This has been reported to be of particular value to children with varying emotional health since the forest setting can help to stabilise anger, with is linked to reduced physical and mental health, depression, and increased antisocial behaviour[103].

Children's early experiences are thought to be central to shaping their long term health and wellbeing and critical to improving the health of the whole population and reducing inequalities in health over the longer term[104]. In 2016, 14% or children aged 2-15 were at risk of obesity, with a further 15% at risk of being classed as overweight[105]. Further benefits for population and human health may also arise from encouraging children to participate in increased physical activity which may lead to long term behaviour changes. Participation in initiatives such as forest schools also seek to raise awareness of the environment through undertaking conservation tasks, with the potential for pupils to retain this connection for years after leaving[106].

Priority 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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

+/-

+

+

+

+

++

+/-

+/-

Likely Environmental Effects

This priority is predicted to have major positive benefits for population and human health in terms of supporting rural business creation and the local community via employment opportunities and provision of integrated land management principles (in line with the Land Use Strategy)[107],enabling farmers to benefit from forestry, for example through income from timber, provision of shelter for stock, or the use of timber as a source of biomass energy which is considered to be a major positive effect for material assets. With this comes a responsibility to ensure that local air quality is not negatively affected.

This priority also has the potential to expand opportunities for more people and businesses to benefit from forestry-related tourism over the short to long term. A minor positive effect is likely on soil, air, water and climatic factors in terms of increased awareness of the benefits of the outdoors and conservation. This could lead to increased physical and mental health benefits if it leads to an increase in people's physical activity and access to greenspace. However, if increased numbers of visitors could also place pressure on the environment if not managed in a sustainable manner. For example, visitors may trample vegetation, create noise, disturb wildlife, and leave litter behind. Therefore it is considered that the topics of biodiversity, historic environment and landscape could experience effects of a mixed magnitude, although the comments above relating to established mitigation are also applicable here.

There is the potential for both positive and negative effects to arise through land use change and conflict over potential alternative land use options, and for landscape depending on the scale and nature of changes. However, increased tourism and income derived from visitors experiencing Scotland's landscape quality has an important contribution to make to local, regional and national economy. Nevertheless, such effects will be experienced at different spatial and temporal scales, so the effects will often be local and subjective.

Forestry is a key asset in Scotland, which has some of the most productive forests in the UK. Further, the amount of timber harvested has been increasing steadily. This priority could stimulate further rural development and ensure the timber industry continues to grow into the future (material assets). However, there is the potential for both positive and negative effects to arise through land use change and conflict over potential alternative land use options, depending on the scale and nature of changes (landscape).

The effects of land use change on the wider environment and communities could be mixed, depending on the scale and nature of changes and if afforestation is not carried out sensitively.

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • Afforestation and forest management will meet the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard which defines the requirements for the sustainable management of forests in the UK including Scotland.

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

Population and Human Health

Biodiversity, Flora and Fauna

Soil

Air

Water

Climatic Factors

Material Assets

Historic Environment

Landscape

++

+

+

+

+

++

+

+

++

Likely Environmental Effects

There are numerous benefits associated with urban trees, forest and woodlands. As well as acting as a local carbon sink (climatic factors) urban forests and woodlands can help to improve air quality through the removal of pollutants such as airborne particulates and absorption of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and ozone.

Urban trees, woodlands and forests also moderate temperatures and have energy effects on buildings, including the reduction of building energy use by lowering temperatures and shading buildings during the summer, and blocking winds in winter (climatic factors and population and human health). Conversely they can increase energy use by shading buildings in winter, and may increase or decrease energy use by blocking summer breezes. Thus, appropriate tree placement near buildings is critical to achieve maximum building energy conservation benefits. The net effects on climatic factors and population and human health are considered to be of major positive magnitude. Lowering the energy use of buildings can have a secondary effect of lowering pollutant emissions from power plants (air quality)[108]. Therefore the effect on air is expected to be local and therefore overall considered to be of minor positive magnitude.

Trees can intercept rainwater runoff and re-evaporate it from their canopies, as well as allowing rain to percolate into the soil, having the effect of lessening flooding incidents and hence a minor positive effect on water, material assets and soil. Improved air quality can have a positive effect on population in terms of lowering levels of asthma. Flood alleviation can have a positive effect on population and water by protecting personal assets and managing the flow of surface water. With an increased contribution from urban forestry it is considered that biodiversity will be encouraged to these areas and hence experience a minor positive effect.

Trees and woodlands have the positive effect of improving urban landscapes which is beneficial for human health over the short to long term by providing opportunities for exercise and helping to lower the incidence of heart attacks and Type 2 diabetes (population and human health)[109]. The effect on landscape is considered to be of major positive magnitude. With a greener environment comes a greater sense of pride and community cohesion as well as lowered crime levels in some cases[110]. Additional secondary benefits are predicted for material assets and population by providing small volumes of by-products and as assets to development. It is expected that the setting of historic environment buildings and monuments could experience minor positive effects from the implementation of this priority.

Uncertainties/Assumptions

  • The high-level nature of the Strategy means that the detailed actions associated with the implementation of this priority are not specified.
  • Assumes that urban forest and woodland creation and management meets the requirements of the UKFS.

6.4 Cumulative Assessment

6.4.1 The cumulative effects of the Forestry Strategy prioirities are detailed in Table 8 and discussed below.

6.4.2 The cumulative effects assessment of the Forestry Strategy priorities highlights that all of the SEA objectives will experience positive effects as a result of the implementation of the Strategy and specifically those that relate to population and human health, biodiversity, flora and fauna, climatic factors and material assets. Minor positive effects are predicted overall across the priorities for soil, air and water. On the whole minor positive effects are expected with respect to the SEA objectives that relate to the historic environment and landscape although there are several potential mixed effects anticipated for these objectives.

6.4.3 With regard to positive effects, major positive cumulative effects are identified for population and human health, biodiversity, flora and fauna, climatic factors and material assets. For example, some priorities will have a major positive impact on population and human health through the delivery of SFM, increased community ownership and sustaining rural communities.

6.4.4 Minor positive effects on soil, air and water are predicted from a combination of, for example, expansion of woodland, lower pollutant emissions due to low carbon technology, lowering of flood incidence in the urban environment and a general increase in conservation awareness.

6.4.5 Whilst on balance the effect on historic environment and landscape is expected to be of minor positive magnitude there are also potential mixed effects that can be addressed at a lower tier.

6.4.6 For example, where priorities support SFM that has the potential to introduce land use change, individual projects will be subject to consideration through the relevant statutory regimes including EIA to ensure any likely significant environmental effects are identified and opportunities to avoid, reduce or offset these are considered, particularly in relation to the landscape and the historic environment.

Table 8: Cumulative effects of the Forestry Strategy Priorities

Strategy Priorities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
SEA Objectives
Population and human health ++ ++ + + ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Biodiversity, flora and fauna ++ ++ o ++ o + ++ +/- +/- +
Soil ++ ++ o + o + ++ +/- + +
Air ++ +/- + o o +/- ++ + + +
Water ++ ++ o + o + ++ + + +
Climatic Factors ++ ++ ++ ++ o ++ ++ + + ++
Material Assets ++ ++ ++ ++ o ++ ++ + ++ +
Historic Environment ++ +/- +/- + o o ++ +/- +/- +
Landscape ++ +/- +/- + o o ++ +/- +/- ++

6.5 Effects of the Forestry Strategy in combination with other Policies, Plans and Strategies

6.5.1 The potential for effects in combination with other PPS has also been considered. The draft Forestry Strategy has the potential to positively and cumulatively contribute across a wide range of Scottish Government policy areas within the context in which it sits. The key role that land management in the context of forestry can play in reducing GHG emissions and adapting to climate change is noted within a range of policies, including the Climate Change Plan and second Land Use Strategy. For example, the role of Scotland's forests and woodlands and the increased use of wood products as a renewable resource to support climate change and biodiversity commitments. In particular, the Climate Change Plan sets out a commitment to ensuring that forestry in Scotland continues to be carried out sustainably to maintain this important carbon sink.

6.5.2 The importance of reducing fragmentation and improving ecosystem health in order to adapt to a changing climate is set out in a range of documents. For example, the 2020 Challenge states a need to improve ecosystem health at the catchment or landscape scale, and that integration of action for wider habitats is needed to combat fragmentation and restore key habitats. This is also reflected in Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme which supports a healthy and diverse natural environment with the capacity to adapt to climate change and ensure that our natural environment is resilient to any future effects.

6.5.3 The role of increased forestry to alleviate flooding is also noted in the Climate Change Plan and the use of natural flood management measures, such as the planting of woodlands, wetland creation, river restoration also has a key role to play in the delivery of Flood Risk Management Strategies and Local Flood Risk Management Plans. Flooding can have a negative impact on population and human health, and there is the potential for wider health benefits to be realised as a result of the draft Strategy leading to potential improvements in air quality and a possible increase in the uptake of physical activity.

6.5.4 The sustainable use of Scotland's natural environment and the benefits that are derived from them are a key consideration in documents such as the Climate Change Plan and NPF3 and SPP. In particular, the potential environmental and wider societal benefits are noted. For example, the role of green space in driving economic development is noted in addition to the importance of sustainable forestry practices in rural Scotland. In turn, further supporting wider Scottish Government policies that seek to improve quality of life.

6.6 The influence that the SEA has had on the Forestry Strategy

6.6.1 This assessment has re-affirmed the importance of the promotion and adherence to the principles of SFM. The draft Strategy has these principles as a corner stone of its vision and ambitions and states that the UKFS is a key requirement for the associated delivery of forest and woodland creation, management and protection. However, as a result of this assessment the Strategy has provided a clear commitment to this approach by including the following priority for action: To promote and develop the concept of SFM as it applies to Scotland. Following the assessment of the consultation responses, the way that the SEA has influenced the development of the Forestry Strategy will be further set out in the Post Adoption Statement.


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Email: Amy Nicolson