Committee cites ‘tensions’ between forestry and farming as factor in decline of Scotland’s trees

13.01.2015

‘Frustrating’ tensions between the forestry and farming sectors have been cited by the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee as contributing to declining planting rates in Scotland. 

The Committee’s call for the sectors to ‘truly integrate and work together’ to help deliver reduced carbon emissions came as it comments on aspects of the Scottish Government’s draft budget 2015-16. 

The Scottish Government has a target of planting 100,000 hectares of new woodlands between 2012 and 2022, equivalent to 10,000 hectares per year. The Committee has voiced concerns that planting targets are not being met, and the annual planting rate is falling, with the potential to impact seriously on Scotland’s carbon reduction targets. 

Rob Gibson MSP, Convener of the Committee said:  

“The issue for the Committee is whether tree planting targets are not being met because of a lack of funds, or whether there are other barriers which are preventing the money delivering as expected.” 

Mr Gibson continued: 

“The tension between farming and forestry has been a frustratingly recurring theme for the Committee. Countless seemingly encouraging words from groups and individuals on both sides come and go yet there seems to be little positive evidence that farming and forestry interests are truly integrating and working together on the scale required to play their part in reducing Scotland’s carbon emissions. 

“We are requesting an explanation from the Scottish Government as to why the planting targets are not being met and what steps it is taking to address the situation.”   

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s report on the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2015-16 highlighted a range of issues, including: 

  • Comments made by the Forestry Commission Scotland that the current budget for acquisitions is zero due to a lack of land sales.
  • A call for urgent improvements to be made to the transparency, accessibility and to the operation of the consultation process surrounding the sales and purchases of Forestry Commission Scotland land by Forest Enterprise, with local communities to be as fully integrated and involved as possible. The Committee is recommending the Scottish Government consider the possibility of a clearly defined public interest test to be undertaken in all cases where Forestry Commission Scotland/ Forest Enterprise is involved in the sale or purchase of land.
  • Whether tenant farmers could be eligible for compensation for forestry  improvements and investments made when leaving a tenancy, and how tree planting by tenant farmers more generally can best be encouraged and facilitated.
  • The modest budget and largely voluntary approach being taken within the Farming for a Better Climate programme may not prove successful in securing the target level of emissions reductions. Mandatory measures should be considered if robust evidence shows the voluntary approach is not working.

Background

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee’s (RACCE) report on the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget 2015-16 can be accessed via the link below:

Report on Draft Budget 2015-16

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) scrutinises policy proposals relating to rural affairs, climate change and the environment. It comes to a view after taking comprehensive evidence from, and engaging with, a wide range of stakeholders ‘on the frontline’ and applies authoritive, expert, effective and influential scrutiny to policy. 

Photographs of the Committee and Convener are available free of charge.

Contact information

Media information

Committee information:

Public information

  • Telephone enquiry line: 0800 092 7500 or 0131 348 5395 (Gàidhlig)
  • info@parliament.scot
  • Text 07786 209 888
  • Ask a question online through live chat
  • We also welcome calls using the Text Relay service or in British Sign Language through contactSCOTLAND-BSL

Keep up to date with us on:

keep up to date with what's happening in Parliament on Facebook Follow the Scottish Parliament on Twitter @ScotParl keep up to date with what's 
happening in Parliament on YouTube

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.