SCOTLAND’S new forestry secretary has called on the private sector to play its part in getting woodland creation back on track. 

Mairi Gougeon has said she will work with a variety of land-based industries to increase the amount of trees planted north of the border. 

While Scotland leads the way in the UK, rates have languished in recent times to around 10,000 hectares annually. With the annual target set to rise to 18,000 ha by 2025, industry body Confor has been among those to demand action is taken to avoid missing the new goal. 

READ MORE: Forestry: 3 key goals for SNP cabinet secretary Mairi Gougeon

“Although we are greatly out-performing the rest of the UK in creating woodlands, our planting levels have been impacted by COVID, Brexit and exceptional storms,” Ms Gougeon said. “I am determined to get the numbers rising again and have made clear my expectations on our agencies to help deliver this. 

“But we also need the private and third sectors to continue to play their part – to plant and sustain more trees, forests and woodlands, to generate and maintain more high-value jobs and create more opportunities for businesses and a local supply chain.” 

Forestry Journal: Humza Yousaf, Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf, Scotland's First Minister (Image: Jane Barlow/PA)

In a shake-up to Nicola Sturgeon’s regime, forestry has once again been placed under a cabinet brief by First Minister Humza Yousaf, having previously been overseen by then environment minister Mairi McAllan. 

“I am delighted to be taking on responsibility for forestry in Scotland again,” Ms Gougeon said. “We are the custodians of Scotland’s national forests and woodlands, held in trust for the nation, for the benefit of us all, now and in the future.”