The historic deforestation of Scotland
Globally, deforestation causes about 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. It also has a huge impact on the world's biodiversity. In Scotland, extensive deforestation has occurred through a combination of natural climate change as well as human activities such as agriculture.
By 1900, only 5% of our land cover remained as forest, of which less than a third was ancient, semi-natural woodland. During the 20th century, however, reforestation increased Scotland's woodland resource to 17% of our land area.
Expanding Scotland's woodlands
At a national scale, and because of the continuing creation of new woodlands, Scotland is continuing to expand its woodland resource. Nevertheless, many individual woodlands have been removed over the last few decades as part of a deliberate change in land use, such as the restoration of important open ground habitats, or for development such as housing or wind farms.
A policy on the control of woodland removal
The Scottish Government has developed a policy on the control of woodland removal (PDF 1.9Mb)
The policy is in support of the Government's Scottish Forestry Strategy and the associated ambition to see Scotland's woodland resource increase to 25% of our land area.
The policy's principal aims are:
- To provide a strategic framework for appropriate woodland removal
- To support the maintenance and expansion of forest cover in Scotland
- To contribute towards achieving an appropriate balance between forested and non-forested land in Scotland
- To support climate change mitigation and adaptation in Scotland
- To provide a sound basis for Scotland's participation in the global debate and actions on deforestation
- To develop a clear understanding of the nature and extent of future woodland removal in Scotland.
A small working group of staff from the Forestry Commission, Forest Research and Scottish Natural Heritage have helped prepare guidance to FCS staff on implementing the Scottish Government's policy on control of woodland removal (PDF 111k).
A number of key stakeholders have also been involved during the development of the guidance. Although aimed at FCS staff, others are welcome to use this guidance if they find it helpful in addressing either the above policy or the statutory guidance on woodland removal contained in paragraph 94 of Scotland's second National Planning Framework.
For further information please contact Jo Ellis: email@example.com.