Forestry Journal:

This piece is an extract from our A View from the Forest (previously Forestry Features) newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

To receive our full, free newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

WELL, there you have it. With barely so much as even a murmur of regret, a £32 million cut to public forestry was confirmed this week when MSPs waved through Scotland's Budget.

"This is a budget that speaks to Scotland's values," is how first minister Humza Yousaf put it, and, from a forestry point of view, that's pretty telling.

Does Scotland really value the sector so low that it celebrates slashing 41 per cent of the country's woodland creation funding? In voting in favour of decimating Scottish Forestry's budget, do Mairi Gougeon (Scotland's forestry secretary) and her recent predecessors (Mairi McAllan and Fergus Ewing) believe the industry, already struggling to meet tree-planting targets, should be working with both hands tied behind its back?

It's hard to come to any other conclusion, and the list of voices lining up to criticise the move would stretch from John O Groats to Dumfries, with more being added all the time.

Forestry Journal: Scotland's forestry secretary voted to pass the cut to Scottish Forestry's budget Scotland's forestry secretary voted to pass the cut to Scottish Forestry's budget

"The Committee has serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s planned cuts to the woodland creation budget, at a time when the Scottish Government continues to underperform against the recommended planting rates," wrote Chris Stark, chief executive of the Climate Change Committee, in response to a letter this week from Confor's chair, Lord Duncan of Springbank.

Stuart Goodall, the industry body's chief executive, hasn't been shy in sharing his frustration at the "savage" cut either, nor has Alistair Seaman of Woodland Trust Scotland, the decision bringing together the conservation and commercial sides of the sector in a way few could have imagined.


But there was one line from Stuart's excellent Voices of Forestry piece on the news that's worth highlighting again.

"For many years, I have spoken to British ministers and officials and held up Scotland as an example that they should follow," he wrote. "Those countries are now catching up, and Scotland needs to get back on track."

The very fact the suggestion that England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are making up ground on Scotland – despite for so long playing a different sport entirely – hasn't prompted the men in white coats to head to Confor's HQ is perhaps one of the most damning indictments of this budget cut.

That and the fact that forestry's value in the eyes of ministers has been made abundantly clear.