2. The Consultation Process
2.1 Stakeholder engagement during the preparation of the draft Strategy
During the preparation of the consultation draft of the strategy (Jun-Aug 2018), a number of structured discussions took place with a range of stakeholders including amongst others: the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor), the Community Woodland Association, Forest Policy Group (FPG), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the UK Forest Products Association, Woodland Trust Scotland and the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. These discussions were used to explore the potential key themes and issues that a new strategy could consider and identify the opportunities (i.e. events) to engage a wider range of stakeholders in the consultation process.
2.2 Reference Group
A Reference Group was formed during this period to: feed into the development of the draft strategy; increase the effectiveness of the formal consultation process by supplementing and facilitating wider consultation and liaison activity associated with the strategy; and provide views on, and insight into the reaction of others during the consultation process. The group's members represented a wide range of interests and expertise in forestry and land use in Scotland and included individuals working in the private, public and third sectors. The group was chaired by the Director for Environment and Forestry of the Scottish Government. A list of the full membership can be found at Annex 1. The Group met three times: i) prior to the consultation; ii) during the consultation period; and iii) after the consultation period had closed.
2.3 Stakeholder engagement during the consultation period
A 10-week public consultation on a draft strategy was held between 20 September 2018 and 29 November 2018.
Around 350 stakeholders were notified of the consultation via email, and publicity materials on the consultation were provided to Scottish Rural Action (the body which organises Scotland's Rural Parliament). There was also a Ministerial announcement and press release, which resulted in coverage by a number of national and regional newspapers.
The consultation was promoted via social media (Twitter), a blog piece on Forestry Commission Scotland's website and bespoke engagement events.
Many key stakeholders (including the Institute of Chartered Foresters, National Farmers Union Scotland, the Royal Scottish Forestry Society and Woodland Trust Scotland) either retweeted these posts, sharing them with their members, and/or promoted the consultation themselves via Twitter and other online channels.
During the consultation period, officials also arranged or participated in 18 meetings, workshops and events across Scotland, engaging with over 250 people, representing more than 120 organisations (Annex 2). This included a workshop focused on young people (land use professionals and students), hosted by the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment. Officials also responded to contact from members of the public and other stakeholders.
In parallel with the statutory consultation process, on Scottish Government's behalf, Young Scot hosted an online survey on their Young Scot Rewards platform to help better understand young people's awareness of, and perspectives on forestry, as well as its benefits. 189 respondents from across Scotland took part in the survey, with ages ranging from 11 to 25.
2.4 Statutory consultation response and analysis
The consultation document contained 17 questions in total. These focused on the vision, objectives, priorities and policies set out in the draft strategy, as well as on the contents of the associated impact assessments (Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Environment Report, Equality Impact Assessment and Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment).
There were 442 responses to the consultation. 102 (23%) of these were from organisations, including membership representative bodies, businesses, campaign groups, charities, public sector bodies and research institutions. The remaining 340 (77%) responses were submitted by individuals – 216 of these (49% of the total number of responses) were identical and generated as part of a campaign led by Woodland Trust Scotland.
Analysis of the responses was carried out by an independent consultant – 'The Lines Between' – and is available at: https://consult.gov.scot/forestry/scotlands-forestry-strategy-2019-29/
In compliance with the Environmental Assessment (Scotland) Act 2005, following the adoption of Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019-2029, it is a requirement that a SEA Post Adoption Statement be prepared. This sets out how the findings of the SEA Environmental Report and related consultation respondents' comments have been taken into account in the finalisation of the strategy. This will also be available in due course.
Email: Bob Frost