Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019–2029
Long-term framework for the expansion and sustainable management of Scotland's forests and woodland.
Delivery, monitoring and review
In this section we describe the tools we will use to deliver our priorities, objectives and vision. This will require action on many fronts across the public, private, community and voluntary sectors. It is therefore vital that the Scottish Government continues to work closely with our many partners.
There is a long history of government intervention in forestry, and building on this experience we have identified the following delivery policies that could be used to support the delivery of this Strategy.
Effective and proportionate incentives and regulation
The forestry sector receives direct financial incentive from the Scottish Government to plant new forests and woodland. The sector has shown itself to be responsive to this type of incentive, with long-term evidence showing clear responses in the sector to changes in the direct support regime, particularly for woodland creation. The main financial incentive for the sustainable creation and management of forests and woodlands is currently available under the Scotland Rural Development Programme Forestry Grant Scheme 2014–20. Future incentives will be determined in the context of wider support for land use following the UK’s exit from the EU.
Other financial incentives currently provided from the Scottish Government budget are also available to support delivery, for example, the Strategic Timber Transport Fund. These incentives are likely to continue to play an important role in the delivery of this Strategy.
There are also a number of favourable fiscal arrangements for forestry, the control of which is reserved to the UK Government*.
Following the commencement of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, felling and restocking will be regulated by Scottish Forestry (Box 5). Scottish Forestry will also regulate forest and woodland expansion proposals and forest management plans in accordance with the UKFS. Other relevant regulations include Environmental Impact Assessment, Health and Safety, and the Water Framework Directive.
Box 5 – Scottish Government Forestry agencies
Two new forestry agencies will be established within Scottish Government by April 2019:
Regulatory, policy, support and grant-giving functions will transfer from Forestry Commission Scotland.
Forestry and Land Scotland
Management of the Scottish Ministers’ National Forest Estate will transfer from Forest Enterprise Scotland, an agency of the Forestry Commissioners.
Critical to the successful delivery of this Strategy is the continued work Scottish Government will undertake with a range of private, public and third sector partners. Examples of current partnerships include the Scottish Forest & Timber Technologies Industry Leadership Group, the Central Scotland Green Network Trust, and the Forest Industry Safety Accord. Our approach to collaboration goes beyond our own borders and includes joint working with the UK Government and other UK devolved administrations on a number of areas of common interest that require co-operation such as plant health. Scotland will lead on the co-ordination of a number of these areas, including the UKFS, Woodland Carbon Code and forest economics advice.
* Income from timber sales in the UK is free of income and corporation tax and growing timber is exempt from capital gains tax. After two years of ownership, commercial woodlands qualify for 100% business property relief from inheritance tax.
There are other funding partners that will support delivery, including non-governmental funders such as the Lotteries, Trusts and Foundations, which are vitally important through their support of a vast range of forestry-related initiatives and projects.
A key approach to progressing our ambition for better integration of land-use objectives has been our encouragement of, and support for greater collaboration between local landowners, and we will continue to provide this support. This joined-up approach will also be supported in the implementation of the existing regulatory and policy framework covering trees, woodlands and forests requiring co-operation among a wide range of partners (Annex B).
Management of forests and land by Scottish Ministers
The forested and non-forested land owned by Scottish Ministers and managed under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 (FLM(S)A 2018) is Scotland’s largest forest and land resource, and will remain as a national asset. The principles for its management are outlined in Box 6. Scottish Ministers will be a leader in sustainable forest management and sustainable development through their stewardship of these assets, harnessing innovation and working in partnership with others.
Following its establishment, Forestry and Land Scotland will set out more detailed plans for the sustainable management and stewardship of these assets in its Corporate Plan.
Wider public sector action
The delivery of this Strategy will require action across Scottish Government, its agencies and by other public authorities, through creating and managing forest and woodland assets, the promotion of sustainable forest management, and by direct and indirect support for sustainable forest management objectives. In particular, the activities of the two forestry agencies – Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland – will be aligned and focused on the implementation and delivery of this Strategy.
Box 6 – Managing land under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018
Scottish Ministers have a duty to sustainably manage forests and land assets they own and manage under the FLM(S)A 2018. They are committed to using these assets to deliver the Scottish Government’s international commitments and National Performance Framework objectives. These assets will also be managed to contribute to the delivery of the priorities outlined in this Strategy. These holdings are comprised of both land that is forested and land that is not. The Act sets out the principles as to how these different categories of land are to be managed:
Managed to promote sustainable forest management.
Managed in order to further the achievement of sustainable development. The UN defines this as: ‘...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
Acquisition and disposals
Scottish Ministers have the ability to acquire and dispose of land to support the delivery of these principles, and the objectives and priorities of this Strategy. Any funds received as a result of disposing of land will be used solely for the purpose of carrying out Scottish Ministers’ functions under the FLM(S)A 2018.
Forestry and Land Scotland Corporate Plan
Once established, Forestry and Land Scotland will publish a Corporate Plan that will provide details of how these management principles will be delivered on behalf of Scottish Ministers, outline specific actions for supporting the delivery of this Strategy, and also describe how these assets will be used to support wider Scottish Government priorities, such as growing a sustainable and inclusive rural economy.
Scotland’s planning authorities are also critical in delivering this Strategy through their role in the planning system and the implementation of the supportive framework for trees, forests and woodlands, including the development of local Forestry and Woodland Strategies (Annex B).
This Strategy complements and supports the delivery of existing Scottish Government policies such as the Land Use Strategy, the Economic Strategy and Economic Action Plan, Biodiversity Strategy, Climate Change Adaptation Programme and the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (Annex A).
In the development of future relevant policies, the Scottish Government will identify opportunities for supportive actions to aid the delivery of Scottish Ministers’ forestry ambitions, and also to identify where forestry can contribute to the aims and objectives of other policies.
Monitoring, research and advice
The Scottish Government will work with the UK Government and other devolved administrations, as well as with the forestry sector, to ensure that appropriate surveillance and monitoring of Scotland’s forests and woodlands continues. This will inform decision-making on the expansion, protection, use and management of the resource. This support also includes working closely with the internationally recognised expertise we have in Scotland on forest and land use-related research to inform future policy and practice, such as the University of Edinburgh, Forest Research, the James Hutton Institute and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
We will continue to invest in forest research and science, collaborating with the UK Government and other UK devolved administrations to further knowledge and understanding in areas such as tree pests and diseases, tree breeding, wood properties and forest resilience.
We also recognise the importance of supporting the provision of relevant technical advice (e.g. the role of woodland in natural flood management), information (e.g. inventory and forecasting data) and guidance (e.g. guidance produced under the Forestry & Water Scotland initiative), and will ensure where necessary that it is co-ordinated with other information provided to landowners and managers.
Implementation, monitoring and reporting framework
The Scottish Government will support the implementation of this Strategy. Implementation will need to be co-ordinated with other Scottish Government plans and strategies and incorporated into public bodies’ operational plans, such as the corporate plans of Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland. Scottish Forestry will lead on the co-ordination of the delivery, monitoring and reporting.
Within 12 months of laying this Strategy before the Scottish Parliament the Scottish Government will publish a more detailed implementation, monitoring and reporting framework. This framework will include:
- Key delivery milestones.
- A set of indicators to enable us to monitor the delivery of the Strategy’s objectives.
- A reporting schedule that includes the publication dates of the statutorily required three-yearly progress reports.
We will also establish a national stakeholder group to advise on, and support the implementation of the Forestry Strategy.
Reviewing the Strategy
Scottish Ministers are required to keep this Strategy under review, and if they have not revised it within the period of nine years of its publication, they must then do so. An update on reviewing the Strategy will be included in the planned reporting process (see above).
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