Scottish woodland scheme approvals highest since year 2000

Scotland has ambitious woodland creation targets which are rising year-on-year
Scotland has ambitious woodland creation targets which are rising year-on-year

Over 13,000 hectares worth of new woodland creation schemes have been approved in Scotland so far this year, making it the highest number recorded since 2000.

Scottish Forestry said the figure demonstrated a high demand among farmers, landowners and land managers for large and small forestry projects.

Out of the 13,100ha of total woodland creation, 6,750 hectares are native species, which is also the highest ever recorded.

Scotland has ambitious woodland creation targets which are rising year-on-year.

They are currently at 16,500ha of new woodland for 2023-2024, then reaching 18,000ha of new woodland by 2024-2025.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon welcomed the figures, saying the government was working to get "the right trees in the right place".

“I’m very encouraged at the number of application approvals hitting a record this century – that’s a tremendous achievement," she said.

"However, although the approvals are very encouraging, we need to acknowledge that we still have a way to go in meeting the actual targets. More work by everyone on this is needed.

“Now that all these woodland creation projects have been approved, the hope is that woodland owners will be able to get all these trees in the ground."

A series of measures to support woodland creation in Scotland were recently announced, including a 20% rise in grants for smaller schemes.

There were also measures that sought to boost riparian and agroforestry tree planting.

Commenting on the record approvals, Scottish Forestry’s interim CEO, Paul Lowe said: “We’ve expanded our workforce to meet the rising demand for woodland creation schemes.

"These new woodland officers need time to build up their working experience, and to help this, we are investing £1 million into a comprehensive skills training package to support them.

“I know there is more work to be done to improve the speed of woodland creation applications, but in time our actions will allow for a smoother and quicker application process for new schemes.”