Woodland Expansion Advisory Group

In Scotland there are competing demands for the use of land. Woodland expansion is one of these.

The Scottish Government wishes to increase woodland cover, but wants to do so in a way that is integrated with other land-based objectives. For example, we need to ensure food production can flourish at the same time as we plant more trees.

To find a constructive, practical and balanced way forward the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group (WEAG) was set up.

Final report of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group


Read the group's Final Report (PDF 1.7Mb)

The Cabinet Secretary's response to the report, including an Action Plan for implementation, has also been published. Read the Cabinet Secretary's response (PDF 202k)

The report of the WEAG group was guided by the approach set out in the Land Use Strategy, proposing a new direction for woodland creation that is more integrated, diverse, inclusive, productive, positive and resilient, and which takes account of the woodlands we already have.

As part of the reporting structure for the Land Use Strategy, a short annual progress report on WEAG implementation has been published and is available on the Scottish Government's web-pages.

The Action Plan 2012-2015 (PDF 233KB) continues to guide the implementation of the 24 recommendations, as highlighted in the Cabinet Secretary's response to the WEAG Report.

The Implementing the Response Recommendations- June 2013 Report recognises that a reasonable progress has been made and it intends to provide a fuller account of action taken since October 2012 to implement the 24 recommendations.

We have developed a Customer's Charter (PDF 260KB) to contribute to delivering recommendations 8 and 9. The Charter offers all participators a reassurance that applications will be processed within an agreed timescale. To ensure an efficient process, general and specific guidance on what information applicants must provide with their application is always available on the grants web-pages of FCS and SRDP.

Following consultation in summer 2013, guidance about woodland creation on agricultural land (PDF 80KB) was prepared in order to implement recommendations 3 and 11.

The group's task was:

"To provide advice to the Cabinet Secretary, by June 2012, on identifying more closely which types of land are best for tree planting in Scotland, in the context of other land-based objectives; and on promoting good practice and local processes in relation to tree planting so as to secure multiple benefits."

These terms of reference are based on Proposal 7 of the Scottish Government’s Land Use Strategy.

Group members

The 19 strong Woodland Expansion Advisory Group included farmers, foresters, conservation, community and land experts.


From left to right:

  • George McRobbie: UPM Tilhill.
  • Angus Mccall: Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Association.
  • Dr Andrew Midgley: Scottish Land and Estates.
  • Nigel Miller: NFUS.
  • Jonnie Hall: NFUS.
  • George Milne: National Sheep Association.
  • David Barnes: Scottish Government Rural and Environment Directorate (front).
  • Professor Jeff Maxwell: Former Director of Macaulay Land Use Research Institute and recent Chair of Tenant Farming Forum (back).
  • Dr Andrew Barbour: Chair of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group. Farms in Perthshire and woodland adviser to Atholl Estates.
  • Bob McIntosh: Director, Scottish Government, Environment and Forestry Directorate
  • Susan Davies: Scottish Natural Heritage.
  • Jo O’Hara: Scottish Government Rural and Environment Directorate.
  • Hamish Macleod: Director BSW and Chair of FC Scotland’s National Committee.
  • Mark Aitken: Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (front).
  • Stuart Goodall: CONFOR (back)
  • Vicki Swales: RSPB Scotland.
  • Simon Pepper: SNH Board member and former director WWF.
  • (not pictured) Ian Ross: Highland Council and Chair of Planning, Environment and Development Committee. Mr Ross also chaired the Forests for People Advisory Panel.
  • (not pictured) Bill Ritchie: Scottish Crofting Federation, attended meetings from January 2012 onwards.

Press releases

26 August 2011: First meeting “constructive” says Barbour
13 October 2011: Views wanted on tree planting in Scotland
12 January 2012: Meetings planned to discuss future tree planting
22 June 2012: Report aims to break down barriers over tree planting
4 October 2012: Lochhead gives green light to tree planting report

Contact details

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Post: Secretary to the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group
c/o Forestry Commission Scotland
231 Corstorphine Road
Edinburgh, EH12 7AT

Phone: 0131 334 0303