MSP Fergus Ewing welcomed the review from Jim Mackinnon which examines the forestry industry and the current regulatory barriers to woodland creation in Scotland.
The review is part of a broader package of reforms to drive forward forestry’s contribution to the rural economy and to support delivery of climate change targets.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Streamlining the process to approve sustainable planting schemes, for example by appointing accredited, experienced agents to help certify some woodland planting schemes and by giving FCS local offices more responsibility to approve lower value applications
- Earlier engagement between tree-planting businesses and communities, in a way that is proportionate to the scale and impact of the planting scheme
- A dedicated national Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) team to deal with complex proposals including all projects where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required
Commenting on the recommendations, Mr Ewing said: "Scotland’s forests and woodlands are among our most valuable rural assets and our ambition is for them to expand and flourish. I am determined to reduce the complexity, duration and cost of tree planting applications and that is why we commissioned this detailed analysis.
"I want to thank Jim Mackinnon for all his hard work on the review. I am determined to improve the pace and scale of new sustainable planting to meet our climate change commitment to plant 10,000 hectares per year and to ensure long-term availability of timber. With that in mind I accept in principle all the recommendations made in the report and look forward to FCS setting out early next year a delivery plan for implementing the recommendations."
Shireen Chambers FICFor, ICF Executive Director, said: "We’re delighted that Mr Ewing has accepted, in principle, all the recommendations from this report, and we look forward to playing our part in taking them forward. In particular, we will work closely with Forestry Commission Scotland and Confor to develop the approach of appointing accredited forestry professionals to certify that woodland creation proposals meet the UK Forestry Standard, and we will continue working with partners to develop and deliver appropriate professional training across the sector."
Analysis of Current Arrangements for the Consideration and Approval of Forestry Planting Proposals http://www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Rural/Forestry/JimMackinnonreport