Published on : Sunday, July 7, 2013
As Confor’s latest campaign to protect and expand Scotland’s commercial forest takes off, two ministers re-committed themselves to achieving targets for new planting and to support Confor’s efforts to promote a more accurate understanding of the economic, environmental and social benefits of commercial forestry.
This was welcomed by George Webb, Confor chairman who said: “The commitment to achieving 100,000 hectares of new planting by 2022 with a 60:40 split in favour of commercial softwood has been reaffirmed, and assistance offered to help with Confor’s efforts to explain the economic, environmental and social benefits produced by the sector. The forestry minister also had an important message for the sector: ‘keep planting and do not be put off by the latest CAP reforms’.”
George Webb and Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall met with Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, Minister for Environment and Climate Change and Fergus Ewing, MSP, Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, who were keen to respond to Confor’s campaign to finally achieve the levels of commercial planting required to underpin further investment in Scotland’s forest-based industries.
Confor, which has led industry efforts to meet commercial planting targets over the last two years, also explained how in certain cases over-zealous interpretation of government standards for forestry was destroying the existing softwood resource and that ‘nit-picking’ by officials was creating cost and delays in approving schemes. The ministers asked that any future examples of such behaviour should be documented and raised by Confor with Forestry Commission Scotland.
“All in all, it was a very useful meeting,” confirmed George Webb. “The ministers recognised that whilst some progress had been made, in response to previous meetings with Confor and our suggestions for improvement, the progress was lacking and they made clear that they understood the importance of achieving targets for planting to the future economic growth in the industry. The ministers have also agreed to meet again with Confor later this year to review developments.
“We need to see continued real improvements in the process and support for more productive woodland creation and Confor will continue to keep up the pressure to ensure these are delivered.”