FERGUS Ewing MSP recently addressed a group of investors, farmers and landowners to highlight the benefits of planting new woodland in a “golden era” for forestry in Scotland.

The cabinet secretary for rural economy was speaking at Forestry in Scotland: Investing in the Future, at a time when Scotland is planting almost 85 per cent of all new trees in the UK.

Mr Ewing was joined by Don Macleod of legal firm Turcan Connell, David Robertson of Scottish Woodlands and Stuart Goodall of Confor.

The event was held at Adam Smith’s Panmure House in central Edinburgh. In Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Smith commented that ‘not a stick of Scottish timber’ was being used to build Edinburgh’s New Town as there was so little wood available.

Mr Ewing said: “We are moving into a new golden era for forestry in Scotland. With full devolution of forestry policy and our 2018-19 planting target smashed, we have a great base to build on. The focus now is to plant more modern, sustainable forests and to use more home-grown wood - to tackle the climate emergency and to provide jobs in our rural economy.

“By committing to ambitious future planting rates over the next decade, we are investing in Scotland’s economic and environmental future.” 

Stuart Goodall, who represents 1,500+ forestry and wood-using businesses across the UK as Confor CEO, said: “Forestry and timber is a £1 billion business in Scotland, providing more than 25,000 jobs - and it is growing year on year. We must continue investing in tree planting, forest management and wood processing to reduce our reliance on imports. The UK is the world’s second largest net importer of timber after China, bringing in 80 per cent of the wood we use. Scotland is leading the way in reducing our forest footprint and there are positive signs that the rest of the UK is following its positive example.”

David Robertson, investment and business development director for Scottish Woodlands, said: “There is huge interest from farmers, landowners and investors in planting trees in Scotland - and by providing the right support, we can deliver a wide range of economic, environmental and social benefits. It’s a very exciting time to be involved.

“I’m especially delighted that Tom Pate is coming along to talk about how planting trees on his farm in Angus has become a successful part of a diversified business.”

Don Macleod, land and property partner at legal firm Turcan Connell, said: “It’s all about helping our clients understand the potential of planting trees and putting forestry at the centre of land use discussions. We are moving away from the old farming versus forestry debates to a much better understanding of how the two can work together effectively - to provide a sustainable rural future in Scotland.”