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Forestry Strategies

Forestry and most forestry buildings, as with agriculture, are not 'development' as defined in the planning acts.However wood processing plants, sawmills, forest villages and other downstream activities are.
The Environmental Assessment Regulations require that major afforestation proposals should be subject to an EA and the new Strategic Environmental Assessment procedures will also apply to forestry. BUT the responsibe authority for EA's on forestry is the Forest Authority.

Planners are merely consultees in circumstances defined by the Minister. The role of planning in forestry is therefore defined by the Government rather than the planning legislation. The Secretary of State however also directs that a Structure Plan, Local Plan or DC should address forestry and the 'conservation of the natural beauties and amenities of the countryside. (See Selman, The Role of Woodlands in meeting Planning Objectives in GB, 1996 -Chapter 2)
However, the planning acts do contain some specific positive measures for trees and woodlands.

TPO's. (NOTE these should not be applied to whole woods, and cannot be applied where a FC Management Plan is in place.)

Planning permissions may allow

tree preservation

tree planting

reinstatement with trees (minerals restoration)

s.50 agreements to include trees

LA authority to plant trees on any area of land in its area

Policy and Purpose

The development of forestry strategies at national, regional and local level has been seen as an important mechanism for determining the pattern of future woodland planting, the restructuring of the existing forest estate and in guiding the individual day to day decisions affecting landowners, farmers and foresters looking to embark on new woodland ventures or to manage the trees and woods they own.

At the broader scale, several successful regional strategies are now in place and have received the approbation, approval or acceptance of the relevant forestry, farming, wildlife, community and resource management agencies or bodies. Many initiatives, for example through the various FWAG’s, are taking these forwards in a positive direction. But even here there are difficulties as the patterns of agricultural, environmental and forestry support and development change rapidly in response to international, national, local and individual aspirations and desires.

At the local level the need for flexibility and adaptability are all the more apparent. The result is very few attempts to generate a vision of the next twenty five years of forestry for local biogeographic regions, and guidance that is ill suited to the everyday needs of decision makers.

But forestry is a significant land use in the countryside especially in Scotland's remoter rural areas

Gilg ( Countryside Planning, 1997, Chapter 4) emphasises that Britain needs more trees.

one of Europe's least wooded countries

climatically well suited to trees

it is Britain's native vegetation cover

This is reflected in Government Policy, for example DoE seeks a doubling of woodland in the next 50 years (but NOTE not in the uplands of Scotland only a continued expansion of forestry is sought (but no target)

Current Forestry in Britain

Forestry Objectives

The concept of a sustainable timber industry, not reliant on imports is no longer an objective.

Policy is now directed towards a sustainable multi-purpose forest estate.

The Countryside Commission objectives for multi-purpose forests :

safeguard & enhance landscapes

protect & enrich wildlife habitats

provide recreation & access

diversify rural employment

provide new sources of income from the land

yield timber or biomass to satisfy a range of markets (including energy)

reduce the speed of global warming

provide an educational resource

create an asset for future generations

The Forestry Commission seeks to:

protect Britain's forests & woods

expand the forest area

enhance the economic value of the forest resource

conserve & improve biodiversity, landscape & cultural heritage

develop woodland recreation

increase public understanding & community participation

R emoter rural communities. however, may see employment in forestry/ products & presence of the industry in the community as more relevant than access, landscape or diversification.

Similarly attempts to 'value' a multi-purpose forest are fraught with difficulties , and may directly impact on timber industry viability- often negatively in rural areas -less usable product and perhaps positively in lowland areas- more high value product & diverse marketplace

3. The Planner's Role

A. Strategies

National Forest Strategy

Forests for Scotland, Forestry Commission, 1999
The Scottish Executive is committed to the development of a National Forest Strategy. The Forestry Commission have recently published a consultation document on the proposal. The key issues it identifies include:

the strategy should provide a multi-benefit forest estate (people, economy, environment) but also seeks to 'value' each benefit

proposes that forestry should continue to increase

seeks more 'partnership' forests

Indicative Forestry Strategies
Scottish Office Circular 13/91

defined issues to be addressed and people to be consulted



Sensitive - NOTE Not allowed to be a negative statement

eg Dumfires & Galloway Structure Plan

promotion & guidance to forestry investors

framework for planning purposes

Forest Authority to take into account

The most recent Circular 9/99 Indicative Forestry Strategies makes several changes to the earlier circular the most significant of which are:

1. It seeks to redirect the focus of IFS to preferred areas and to near urban locations (Community Woodlands). To a large extent this is a reflection of the changes in forest planting and in fiscal policy.

decrease in new conifer planting

increase in smaller deciduous woodland (both a consequence of financial support)

more transfer of better grade agricultural land to forestry

IFS are consequently required to give greater emphasis to the promotion of woodland opportunities in preferred areas.

2. Greater emphasis should be given to Local Forestry Frameworks , in particular consideration should be given to water catchment areas as appropriate units for such strategies.

3. Recommends that IFS should have a role in restructuring of existing forests. The Forestry Commission already have a procedure for the redesign of existing forests (Forest Design Plans) with a limited degree of consultation. There are a number of key issues relevant to the restructuring of existing forests that are generally not well addressed in the circular.-

Government policy is to restore existing forest as forest (return to peat bog , for example, is not encouraged)

Forest Enterprise seeks a high percentage of conifer reafforestation leaving limited opportunities for diversification

Most Forest Design Plans (covering the complete replanting and growth -by implication the next 40-50 years) are already approved

transport of timber and the location of processing plant will become critical issues as production increases

the relationship to existing strategies (sensitive areas etc) is not addressed

4. It suggests that IFS should give specific consideration to purpose within multi-purpose forestry. Local Authority experience of recreation, access, amenity, community and social issues are clearly of relevance to forest design. It remains to be demonstrated how this can be better incorporated in IFS and implemented through consultations.

4. Issues & Challenges

Selman, Planning the Countryside: Current Issues & Future Directions, RTPI, 1988 identified these issues for forestry & planning:

acquire skills in forest landscape design and participate in regional forestry working parties

investigate industries based on forest products, and promote appropriate forests

support regional strategies and the regeneration of the Forest of Caledon

promote forests in the urban fringe and their products

improve input to EA's


Local Forest Strategies
Circular & Regional IFS seek the preparation of more detailed Local Forest Strategies - but there are very few of these

Sales & Access
All forest sales by Forest Enterprise include conditions on access 'where this customary or of local interest'. But problems exist with defining this interest or who pays

Harvesting & Transport
Much forest is not harvestable (too steep, inaccessible etc)

clear felling is not attractive

road capacity limited & damage may ensue

not covered by IFS (our next major challenge?). Forest Enterprise forests have Felling Design Plans -but limited consultation, rely more on local Environmental Panels, and dictated by FE planting objectives

Restoration of Derelict/ degraded land
NPPG on minerals encourages restoration to forestry, but constrained by grant & FA

The Original Forest
upland -Caledonian Pine

lowland- Ancient & semi natural deciduous forest

Forest Authority Premium available but still needs additional funding - the Millennium Forest

but this has no strategic plan and is dictated by the Millennium Commissioners

Agriculture & Forestry
Funds for forestry/ woodland available through Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, Set aside, and agri-environment Habitat funds But still not economic

Acid Rain
Maps of deposition available (Scottish Environment- statistics) but damage still a matter of research and much debate

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