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Urban forestry in Scotland has had a “significant impact” on improving the landscape and people’s quality of life said Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson.
Over the past six years, Forestry Commission Scotland has supported the development of urban forests right across the country through many projects and partnerships.
Part of the investment has brought 11,000 hectares of neglected woodland into good management and 1,400 hectares of new urban woodland has been created. To improve access and recreation opportunities for people, well over 300 miles of footpaths have been built or upgraded in numerous local projects.
Some of the funding support for this work has been delivered through Forestry Commission Scotland’s Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) programme.
Delivering the keynote speech at the European Forum on Urban Forestry Conference in Glasgow today (1st June), Mr Stevenson launched another phase of the WIAT programme. He said:
“The Scottish Government is today signalling its on-going commitment to the Woods In and Around Towns initiative with the launch of Phase III of the programme.
“We will create new urban woods; we will continue to manage ones that are currently neglected; and we will encourage more people to use the woodlands on their doorstep.
“There will be an increased priority to deliver action through WIAT in the four main cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, where social deprivation is high yet the area of quality woodland is often low.”
During his speech, Mr Stevenson also announced that he would soon be releasing details of the latest funding round from the WIAT programme. A further £1.4 million is being awarded to 30 projects across Scotland, from the North East to the South West.
“Improving the lives of people working and living in towns and cities should be at the very heart of urban forestry. We need to explore ways to help people become engaged and part of the process.
“We also need to show the business sector how urban forestry has an important role to play in revitalising Scotland’s economy. Urban forestry support jobs through the management and the production of timber products and woodfuel. Woodlands are also offering a practical training ground for many young people who need to improve their skills for the job market.”
The European Forum on Urban Forestry Conference is being held in Glasgow from 1st to 4th June. It is being organised jointly by Forestry Commission Scotland, Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership.
Delegates are travelling from all over the world including Israel, Morocco, United States and all over Europe and Scandinavia.
During their visit, delegates will be visiting parts of Glasgow to see first hand how urban forestry and greenspace programmes are having a direct and positive effect on people.
Pam Warhurst, Chair of the Forestry Commission.
"Trees, woods and greenspace can simply transform people’s lives.
"We have a fantastic opportunity to use them and greenspace to dramatically change our landscape for the better. This is vital for the economy, biodiversity and most significantly for the quality of the lives of people living within those landscapes.
"This is a long-term goal and one that can only be achieved by pulling together. How and where we plant, maintain and cherish are key questions for all of us in the forestry sector. It is so important that we do work together and share our experience and knowledge to create healthy happy futures for all our children.”
Glasgow's Lord Provost Councillor Bob Winter:
"Glasgow's woodlands which cover almost a tenth of the land in the city are a major asset and are amongst the most unique in Scotland and it's vital we keep it that way.
"In partnership with the Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network we are working to enhance this great resource and link all the greenspaces in our urban areas to the surrounding rural countryside.
""By protecting and enhancing our greenspace and woodlands, making them easier to access and use, we are helping to improve the quality of lives of all those who live and work in and around this great city of ours. We are also helping to increase the biodiversity in our city and assist Glasgow to become one of the most sustainable cities in Europe by cutting our carbon emissions by 30% in 10 years.
"We are delighted, therefore, that Glasgow is hosting this important conference which is looking at the role urban forestry and local green networks have on those of us who live in cities and towns.
"In the meantime, Glasgow City Council will continue to work with all our partners to develop, manage and maintain our city's green and woodland areas, for the benefit of all those who live and work in Glasgow."
Max Hislop, Programme Manager for the Glasgow Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership.
“Urban trees and forests are a vital component of Green Networks and help to deliver a transformed region where people want to live and work.
“The GCV Green Network Partnership has made great strides to embed Green Network development and delivery in the Glasgow City region.
“The new phase of WIAT funding will be a significant boost to delivery of Green Networks across Central Scotland. We are proud to co-host the EFUF conference and to welcome the delegates to the Dear Green Place.
“We look forward to sharing with the delegates what we have achieved and to gaining insights from their experience of urban forestry across Europe.”
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate. For more information www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. For more information on the Woods In and Around Towns initiative log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/wiat.
3. The European Forum on Urban Forestry is a unique venue where urban forestry professionals meet scientists and policy-makers within the field. The forum meets yearly, hosted by one of the members.
4. 2011 is the UN International Year of Forestry. For more information about how this is being celebrated in Scotland, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/IYFscotland2011 and check out our Face book page at www.facebook.com/internationalyearofforestsinscotland
5. Media enquiries: Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0131 314 6508.