A RECORD number of approvals for woodland creation schemes this century has been reached. 

Scottish Forestry officials have so far approved 13,111 hectares worth of planting projects, making it the highest number since the turn of millennium, and marginally more than the 13,068 achieved in 2020/21. Out of the total, 6,748 ha are native species, which is also the highest-ever recorded.

The figures have been revealed on the day (Tuesday) leaders from 80 businesses and organisations in the forestry, land-use, community and environment sectors meet in Perthshire for a Woodland Creation Summit.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon is chairing the summit and says it aims to act as a catalyst to boosting woodland creation rates further in Scotland.


“Today’s summit is hugely important to help galvanise support and effort to increase our woodland creation levels" she said. "I am here at the summit to both listen, but also to ask what more everyone else can do.

“In order to go further in our woodland expansion efforts, we need to work collectively and ensure that we manage this expansion carefully, taking into account other rural interests. We must continue to involve communities and work hard 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. 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 and we can collectively work together to meet our ambitious woodland creation goals.”

During the day long summit, industry leaders are looking closely to identify opportunities and barriers to creating woodlands in Scotland. These findings will, in turn, point towards developing further actions which could help boost tree planting or natural regeneration.

The summit was called shortly after it emerged woodland creation levels in Scotland had fallen below 10,000 ha for the first time in half a decade

Paul Lowe, Scottish Forestry’s Interim CEO, added: “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.”

Stuart Goodall, chief executive with Confor added: “There is now clear and unambiguous evidence that unless Scotland works together to meet our tree planting targets we can expect the impacts of climate change, demonstrated during Storm Arwen and most recently with flooding in Angus, to get much worse with even more devastating impacts."