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)

Read the Cabinet Secretary's response (PDF 202k)Cabinet Secretary's response to the report, including an Action Plan for implementation Read the

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.

Customer's charter

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.

Farm woodlands

To continue to deliver recommendation 10, we commissioned the James Hutton Institute to explore ways to integrate woodland management and farming. The study produced a report of technical advice - "Integrating woodland management and farming (PDF 1MB)" - and a number of case studies of farms that have achieved effective synergies between farming and woodland management.

Prospects for productive woodland in Scotland

Over the last few years Scottish Government aimed to deliver a sustainable annual planting programme of 10,000 hectares, of which around 60% should constitute softwood production forests (FCS, 2009). Disappointing results prompted the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group to explore the reasons why these targets were not met. This report was commissioned to Forest Research in order to understand why landowners and managers are less likely to create productive woodland, to identify trends and to present a suite of options to address the identified constraints.

Read 'Prospects for productive woodland in Scotland: Insights from stakeholders' (PDF 2.9MB), prepared to implement recommendation 2. A two-page summary (PDF 1.36MB) is also available.

FCS has developed a response (PDF 245KB) to recognise the progress already made across some of the options identified in the report and to continue to drive actions that support the creation of well designed productive woodlands.

Sub-regional forestry pilot studies

Modern forestry policy and practice focuses on the goal of sustainable development and delivering a range of benefits to society from trees and woodlands.

Under Recommendation 4, sub-regional forestry focused pilots were undertaken to inform forestry policy and practice at a local scale. These pilots were undertaken in the Cowal peninsula, Dumfries and Galloway and in the Flow Country. The Evaluation of the Land Use Strategy (LUS) Forestry Focussed Sub-Regional Pilot Studies (PDF 4.4MB) considered the three projects to ascertain their ability to guide local level land use decision-making, in line with the overall objectives of the LUS. The evaluation also investigated the processes used in the development of each pilot, the balance of costs and benefits and the main strengths, weaknesses and areas of good-practice evidenced in the pilots.

In addition, we developed Advice for regional and sub-regional forest planning (PDF 840KB) to recognise the potential strengths and benefits of catchment-focused planning processes. This advice – based around the three pilots – highlights the importance of taking into account local circumstances and factors as well as potential conflicts with other land uses in forest planning.

Guidance about woodland creation on agricultural land

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

More information about WEAG

More information about WEAG, including information about its members and press releases.