FPG is an independent think tank feeding new ideas into the debate about forestry in Scotland. Our aim is to influence policy through our quality commentaries and ‘thought’ pieces on current issues.
We are convinced that a more diverse kind of forestry would offer rural Scotland a much better deal than is currently being achieved, so we are keen to see a faster pace of reform.
We want more support given for the good things that have been happening – community woods, hardwood timber projects, re-structuring of conifer plantations, native woodland expansion, woodlots – and other positive changes which bring benefits to local people and their environment.
Much more local control, small scale working and diversity: these are key elements of our vision for change – in contrast to the 20th Century forestry which still dominates much of Scotland’s landscape.
Many other countries have a ‘woodland culture’ in which trees and woodlands play a very positive and important part in the life of rural areas. This kind of forestry would transform Scotland; it is a serious economic land use, but with the emphasis on maximising local benefit (‘jobs per log’), rather than the other way around (‘logs per job’). There is scope here for adding value to the communities that live with the landscape, such as building houses using locally grown and sawn timber.
And it is not just about timber. It is growing trees and caring for woodlands in a way that also meets a variety of local needs – firewood and other products, shelter for livestock, spaces for learning and playing. These are all things which encourage active local engagement and ownership, aiding community cohesion, resilience and ecological improvement, and enriching local quality of life.
If you are interested in these ideas, read on!