FORESTRY leaders will come together next month for a long-awaited meeting to address Scotland's tree-planting slump. 

The Woodland Creation Summit will be chaired by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon and held on Tuesday, December 12, at the Battleby Conference Centre, Perth. 

During the day-long summit, industry figures directly involved in woodland creation will put a spotlight on the different opportunities for growing more trees and also look at overcoming any associated barriers.


The emergency meeting was announced earlier this year when it emerged Scotland's tree-planting levels had fallen to their lowest annual rate for half a decade, dropping to just over 8,000 hectares. It was the first time in five years the country had created fewer than 10,000 ha of new woodland across a period of 12 months. 

Ms Gougeon said: “We have very ambitious woodland creation targets in Scotland which are hugely important in terms of tackling climate change and nature recovery – the planet’s two biggest crises. 

“But our woodlands are also vital in providing for the economy, supporting jobs and in strengthening communities and boosting healthy lifestyles.

Forestry Journal: Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon will chair the summit Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon will chair the summit (Image: FJ)

“We need to expand our forests and woodlands but in a careful and considered way, and importantly to make them more resilient for the future.

“The summit provides a good opportunity to focus our attention on the specifics of woodland creation and act as a catalyst to create a step change in our planting rates.”

The organisation and running of the summit is to be managed by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF). The ICF will soon be writing out to invitees along with a short survey to collect initial views on boosting tree planting in Scotland.

Paul Lowe, interim CEO for Scottish Forestry, added: “Woodland creation in Scotland is very much a shared endeavour where working together will deliver an expansion in our forests and woodlands.

“We all have important roles to play in boosting tree planting and the summit will explore what more each part of the sector can do to help get our woodland creation rates on the rise again.

“I’m very much looking forward to the summit and meeting those involved in the woodland creation process.”

New planting figures are released each year in June. To date, Scottish Forestry has approved over 11,200 hectares worth of new woodland applications, which already exceeds last year’s total.

With more approvals expected in the pipeline, it is hoped that landowners will turn these applications into actual trees in the ground, therefore contributing towards the annual targets.
In June this year, a delivery action plan was announced aimed at ramping up tree planting levels.

This included a £1 million investment by Scottish Forestry to provide comprehensive training for its staff to speed up the woodland creation application process.