News Release 29 November 2016
Today the Forest Policy Group has published a summary report of their recent conference highlighting the benefits of local control of forestry.
The landmark conference held in Birnam also showed that there is a huge appetite for such an approach, with over 100 in attendance from all over Scotland.
The sell-out event took place at a time when the future of forestry is under intense debate, with a Scottish Government consultation on the subject having just closed. In recent years, the industrial forestry sector has been very successful in advancing its agenda and highlighting the economic benefits of its approach to forestry.
However, little attention has been paid to the outcomes that arise from a smaller-scale, local approach, and this led to the idea for the conference, titled ‘Getting Value from Local Woods’ and organised by the Forest Policy Group.
Speakers representing small businesses as diverse as sawmills, nurseries, furniture makers and house builders highlighted the opportunities for local production, and the benefits arising.
These were agreed to include ‘sticky money’ – the idea that income remains and re-circulates in the community; greater job ‘intensity’ – ie more jobs generated per £ of economic activity; and strong relationships and collaboration between businesses.
Often local businesses – including community enterprises – were able to generate income and social benefits from woodlands that a mainstream industrial approach had failed.
And a variety of ownership models for woodlands, from individuals to community trusts to partnerships were shown to have a proven track record in acquiring and managing woodlands in ways that contribute greatly to local wellbeing.
One delegate noted that it was “so difficult to tie all these themes together, but the format worked brilliantly” whilst another simply described the event as “inspirational”.
As the debate on Scottish forestry continues, with both a draft Forestry Bill and a review of the Scottish Forestry Strategy expected in coming months, this was a timely and invaluable reminder that forestry is a ‘broad church’ and that the potential of a local approach has yet to be fully realised.
David Shepherd, Owner, Craggach Woods
“this was one of those conferences you know you’ll always remember – I was there when it happened, a significant change’
Gordon Gray Stephens, Convenor, Forest Policy Group
“We were able to gather together an impressive range of people, both on the platform and the floor, people who are getting things done to release value from Scotland’s woodlands. We need to make sure that Scottish Government also pays attention to this incredibly important part of our forestry sector”
- The Forest Policy Group (FPG) seeks to further the development of sustainable forestry in Scotland, by contributing informed inputs to the policy debate. Its membership is drawn from woodland organisations, forestry and land use professionals and timber users, who subscribe to a view of forestry in which:
- environmental and social issues are treated as core parts of forestry on an equal footing with economic interests; and
- diversity is actively fostered – diversity of tree species and woodland types, woodland tenure, management approaches, timber production and processing, and wider economic opportunities.
- FPG has produced a number of policy papers which are available from the Group’s website
- FPG received financial support towards the costs of running the conference from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
- The summary conference report can be found here