The Forest Policy Group (FPG) brings together people from across the forestry spectrum and has a vision for forestry in Scotland centred on: more local involvement, a greater diversity of approaches, more small-scale action and wider ownership of forests.
We believe forestry has been too narrowly focussed in Scotland; the growing of trees has the potential to generate an immense range of public and private goods. We are therefore committed to inclusiveness, social justice and localism; and we think at the same time that enterprise and business development are vital. We are passionate about timber processing and people using woods; and equally we are concerned with biodiversity and ecosystem services. We are interested in the links between forestry and other land management; farming, sporting, planning and housing. Like others in the forest sector we are concerned about threats from pests, diseases and climate change, but our solutions are likely to be different.
We start from the view that the more people involved with forestry the better, and the more ways they are involved the better. We believe that Scotland should have more diverse forests and that we should be applying more, different approaches to managing them. All of these things require new policies; or old policies acted on.
Forestry delivers many things for the people of Scotland, and could deliver more. We have distilled our aspirations to a set of 7 statements set out below.
People and governance
1. Forestry should be more inclusive. People want to use forests, in all sorts of ways, and they need policies and support. Forest policy should direct support more evenly.
2. Forestry should be more socially just. More people should own and manage forests. This is rarely possible in Scotland. Forests and woodland ownership should be accessible to a wider range of people. Most forests and woodland on the market have price tags in hundreds of thousands, or millions, of pounds, and are therefore beyond the means of ordinary people.
3. Governance of forestry should be more transparent and accountable. A relatively small number of key players dominate forestry and determine the direction of policy. This makes it hard for new ideas and different models of forestry to flourish. Forestry also needs more regional and local scale decision-making.
4. Native woodland, community woodlands, farm woodlands, rural development forestry, urban woodlands and small woodlands should become more centre stage, on an equal footing with large conifer forests. Forestry can only deliver its potential when there is equitable representation of forest types.
5. Diversity in our forests should be fostered i.e. diversity of tree species, woodland types, management styles and ownership. Diversity is important in underpinning a wide array of economic and community opportunities that deliver public benefits and buffering against future shocks.
6. A greater diversity of forest related and timber utilisation businesses should be fostered. More small timber and forest-related businesses can exploit enterprise opportunities; and economic policies should be adjusted to promote this.
7. Forestry and timber utilisation should deliver more responsively to local people and markets. All too frequently economic policy and market development focus only on solutions that suit existing large scale industries. More imaginative, flexible and local solutions are needed that involve and benefit local people.
How do we achieve these things?
In order to achieve our vision, we are committed to producing well researched, properly thought through policy papers, articles and blogs; and encouraging well-informed debate.