More trees, less red tape urge experts

A new report calls for more trees, less red tape in grant applications and for more people to be involved in creating woodland.

Land-based industries need to work together to facilitate increased tree planting in Scotland the report said - image: HW
Land-based industries need to work together to facilitate increased tree planting in Scotland the report said - image: HW

The Report of Woodland Expansion Advisory Group said Scotland needed to give woodland creation a new direction by promoting integration and breaking down barriers.

The report, which has 24 recommendations, says an increase in new woodlands is needed but this needs to be done in a more inclusive way to minimise conflict with land uses such as farming.

Dr Andrew Barbour, chair of the advisory group set up last year to look at expansion of woodland, presented the 92-page document to environment and rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead at last month’s Royal Highland Show.

Dr Barbour said: "Woodland expansion through public money has to get the balance right between Government policy objectives and private interests. If we all are to get the benefits from tree planting we need to break down old cultural barriers.

"We need to bring the land-based industries closer together so they work in a more integrated way. This is especially true with farming and forestry. We must look at how we can deliver this integration to get the best for everyone."

Lochhead said: "Tree planting is a good thing and we need more trees in the ground to get the benefits woodland expansion brings. Recent figures for planting show last year we created 9,000ha of new woodland, a healthy jump from 5,100 ha the year before.

"However it is crucial this new planting is carried out in a way that reduces conflict - we need to bring land based industries together, rather than pull them apart. It is vital that we get our approach to woodland expansion right."

A response to the report is expected from Lochhead this autumn.

Other recommendations include:

•    cutting the red tape in the grants process and promoting more integration between farming and forestry;
•    adopting better strategic processes to get the right trees in the right place;
•    doing more to offer advice and training for farmers interested in woodland creation on their land;
•    involving more people in woodland creation including crofters, tenants and local communities.
•    encouraging foresters to work more closely with the farming community to make sure that woodland creation fits with agriculture

The full report is available online at www.forestry.gov.uk/weag


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