The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Mairi Gougeon will chair a forestry summit later in the summer alongside industry leaders and land management bodies to discuss how they will get planting levels back on track. 

The announcement follows a package of forestry measures from the Scottish Government released earlier this week to speed up the woodland creation process and to encourage landowners to plant more trees. 

Actions included a £1 million investment in training forestry staff, increasing grant rates and eligibility, support and advice for farmers to integrate forests onto their land, and increased support for smaller scale projects.  

New figures reveal last year Scotland created 8,190 hectares (ha) of new woodland out Scotland’s national target of 15,000 ha, meeting just 54% of the goal. 

Scottish Forestry had approved 11,000 ha of applications, however due to “slippage”, a quarter of these projects were delayed or not taken forward by landowners. 

The high demand for forestry creation in Scotland continues with over 17.000 ha already approved for the next three years, and a further 29,000 ha of Forestry Grant Scheme applications and plans are in the works. 

Mairi Gougeon said: “It is clear that although Scotland is performing way better than the rest of the UK, our planting rates are not meeting our ambitious targets.  

“Action is needed, and both the private and public sector must collectively step up and improve its output. 

“We need to dramatically increase the level of woodland creation approvals and improve on the quality of applications being submitted as quite frankly the current status is not acceptable. 

“Creating more woodlands is a national joint effort involving landowners, charities, communities and forestry managers.  

“I want our summit to bring everyone together to agree additional actions we can all take to take our commitments on woodland creation to the next level, ensure that forestry makes its crucial contribution to tackling climate change, and provide valuable jobs and business opportunities in rural Scotland too.” 

Scotland produces 60% of all new woodland in the UK; creation targets set out in the Scottish Governments Climate Change Plan are rising each year, jumping to 18,000 ha by 2024/25.