The Forest Policy Group is an independent thinktank dedicated to diversifying and strengthening Scotland’s forest sector. We believe that forestry could and should contribute much more to the economy than it presently does, particularly in rural areas and through small- to medium-scale enterprises. It is important that it also becomes more resilient and sustainable.
For a century, Scottish forestry has focussed on fast growing softwoods (mainly Sitka spruce) to the neglect of other species. Our wood processing sector has become highly centralised (often distant from the forest) whilst numerous smaller local sawmills and other forestry businesses have been lost. Our unique pattern of ownership means that most ordinary people are denied opportunities to own or manage small areas of forest.
FPG believes that we should be much more ambitious about forestry and what we expect it to provide – more (and higher quality) products, a diverse forest resource (more resilient to change and adaptable to our needs), and a thriving infrastructure of forestry businesses and livelihoods at all scales. Opening forestry up to the involvement and inventiveness of many more people is a crucial part of how we will make this transformation.
Since forestry is still largely dependent on public finance, FPG believes that it is these directions of the industry which justify public support.