Views are being sought on a new forestry strategy for Scotland.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has launched a 10-week consultation for views on a draft strategy for the sector.
Launching the consultation yesterday at Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith, with forestry and rural skills students, Mr Ewing said: “In April, the forestry devolution process will have been completed and forestry in Scotland will begin a new chapter.
“Scottish ministers will be fully accountable for forestry and two new forestry agencies will come into being.
“It is only fitting we also establish a new, long-term vision for forestry that increases our woodland area and delivers more economic, social and environmental benefits while protecting and enhancing our forest resources so that they provide more benefits for more people in 50 to 100 years’ time.”
He said once finalised in 2019, the draft strategy will act as a 10-year framework for action, focused on three key areas.
The first is increasing the contribution of forests and woodlands to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, especially in rural communities.
The second is protecting and enhancing Scotland’s valuable natural assets, ensuring they are resilient and contribute to a healthy high quality environment.
And the third area is ensuring more people are empowered to use forests and woodlands to improve their health, wellbeing and life chances.
“I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of forestry to submit their views,” added Mr Ewing.
Stuart Goodall, forestry trade body Confor’s chief executive, said: “Forestry is a long-term business and I welcome the pledge to develop a long-term vision for our £1 billion industry in Scotland and the 25,000-plus jobs it supports, which will continue to deliver major economic, environmental and social benefits.”
The consultation closes on November 29.