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15 May 2012 15:14:54 |

Scotland's forests need restructure says minister

The Forestry Commission Scotland has released a new publication which aims to help address growing business and environmental challenges that may be posed to forests in the future.
’Achieving Diversity in Scotland’s Forest Lanscapes’ is aimed at owners and managers of conifer woodlands. The practice guide, which includes case studies, high lights decisions which managers need to make when they are preparing a Forest Plan.
"Most of Scotland’s woodlands are 20th century conifer forests. They were planted primarily for commercial benefits and with little thought to their impact on local landscapes or their contribution to biodiversity" said Stewart Stevenson, Minister for the Environment.
"These forests are reaching maturity and are being felled and replanted - and this provides a perfect opportunity to restructure them. With careful design and planning these forests can be made more resilient to climate change and other associated risks whilst becoming more diverse habitats and enhancing the local landscape.
"Such restructured forests would continue to provide the nation with quality timber and other wood products - but by incorporating other tree species suited to the site they could also present new business - and recreation - opportunities."
The new UK Forestry Standard and suite of Guidelines promote the benefits of diversity throughout all aspects of the forest environment.

Drawn up with input from landscape architects, forest ecologists and professional foresters, the guidance addresses the challenges facing forest managers in achieving the requirements of the UKFS and offers integrated management options for delivering diversity in a range of situations.
For example, climate change is likely to mean changed site conditions in some areas - and this will impact on the growth of some tree species.
Selecting alternative species that are better suited to the projected conditions - and adopting appropriate silvicultural systems - could create different economic opportunities. Achieving this is one of the key challenges for sustainable forest management.
Nicholas Shepherd, a landscape and culture advisor, said "despite all the challenges facing forest managers in the future, developing a thorough and well thought out Forest Plan offers the best opportunity for establishing and sustaining a diverse forest that is resilient to climate change whilst also delivering biodiversity, landscape, operational and other benefits.
"This guidance aims to inspire managers and help them select the options to both meet their objectives and are appropriate for their forest."
The guidance comes in two parts. Part 1 offers practical advice and ideas - illustrated with case studies - on making the best use of diversity in forest management while preparing a Forest Plan. Part 2 offers illustrated examples of how the advice might come together in four different forest landscapes.


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