As Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, I have a clear ambition for forestry. I want Scotland to have more trees and woodlands. Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019–2029, with a 10-year framework and a 50-year vision, sets out how we will achieve this. I am grateful to everyone who contributed their views, knowledge and expertise to help develop its contents.
This Strategy also signals the start of a new era for forestry in Scotland.
It is a keystone of the new statutory and administrative arrangements under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018.
We build on the success of over 100 years of effective stewardship and growth in forestry and woodlands. The UK Forestry Act 1919 laid the foundations for the thriving Scottish forest and woodland sector that we enjoy today. Forests and woodlands now cover nearly 19% of our land; we plant more trees in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, and our forests and woodlands deliver a rich mixture of benefits, including an economic contribution of £1 billion, and the provision of over 25 000 jobs.
We now look to the next century, with forestry fully devolved. Growing trees is a long-term business, so a clear and robust framework with strong and far-sighted objectives is needed. I want forestry in Scotland to play a significant role in driving forward our rural economy and also our ambitions to make Scotland a low carbon economy and a world leader in dealing with the threat of climate change. Crucially, our forests and woodlands can help deliver health and social benefits for future generations and communities.
If Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019–2029 is to succeed, planting trees and maintaining and investing in forests and woodlands must become a shared national endeavour. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively across all sectors to realise our vision and achieve our ambitions.
Fergus Ewing MSP
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy