Planting of new woodland

The Scottish Government has an ambitious objective to create 100,000 hectares of woodland between 2012 to 2022. As managers of Scotland's National Forest Estate, Forest Enterprise Scotland will play an important role in helping to meet this target.

A strategy for woodland creation

We have set ourselves a number of objectives based on the requirements of the Scottish Government, but also taking into account the long term productivity and sustainability of the National Forest Estate. Our key objectives are listed below:

  • Create at least 3,250 hectares of woodland between September 2016 and March 2021
  • Aspire to create 250 hectares of that woodland on former coalfield and derelict land across central and south west Scotland
  • Prepare to sustain ongoing woodland creation after March 2021 of around 650 hectares per year.


Woodland Creation on the National Forest EstateStrategy for Woodland Creation on the National Forest Estate (PDF 296KB)

This strategy document explains how we plan to achieve our share of the Scottish Government's woodland creation targets.

It gives a background to the Scottish Government's targets and clarifies our objectives and the activities we will undertake to achieve them.

Scotland's forests contribute £1billion GVA to the economy, supporting 11,000 jobs on the National Forest Estate. Many of these are in the growing and processing sector, and in rural communities.

We want to ensure the continued sustainable timber production from the National Forest Estate (NFE), and to grow this important sector for Scotland's benefit. We help achieve this by investing in restocking programmes – replanting (or naturally regenerating) areas after tree removal.

Sitka Spruce being planted

Why do we need a restocking strategy?

The sooner we restock, the quicker we can grow and harvest new timber, increasing the economic value of Scotland's forests. The strategy provides commitments to help us do that, as well as guidance on the use of productive tree species and how much we should plant. It sets out actions that help us balance restocking quickly with good silviculture and environmental protection.

Restocking Strategy front coverRead the Restocking Strategy for the National Forest Estate

Read about our commitments to restocking and learn how we manage, monitor and evaluate our restocking programmes.

Download the Restocking Strategy document (PDF 400KB)


Find out more in our corporate plan

Our restocking strategy is an important part of sustainable forest management. It helps us achieve our environmental, social and economic objectives. Read more about our commitments in our Forest Enterprise Scotland Corporate Plan 2017 - 2019.

Key commitments:

  • We will seek a diverse range of income sources to underpin the cost of managing the National Forest Estate, and we will continually look for ways to achieve best value in delivery of public benefits.

  • We will make progressive reductions in the emissions from our management activities.

Key priorities:

  • Key to delivering good value is our culture and skills. We currently have four main corporate development programmes, all of which have culture and skills components.

  • We have recently embarked on a health and safety culture change programme. Having reduced accident rates through better equipment, techniques and procedures, we recognise that going further requires a fundamental shift in our culture. This is focused on empowering staff to act on health and safety concerns, and working with staff and contractors to learn from unsafe acts and embed safe working behaviours.

  • Relationship management is another corporate development programme where we are exploring with staff how we work with customers, visitors, communities, stakeholders neighbours and diversity groups. This can be challenging at a time of stretched resources but we are strengthening our approach by actively listening to stakeholders and getting better at how we manage contacts.

  • Developing our integrated land management credentials is in part focused on revising our approach to land management planning, and partly on developing partnerships with a wider range of land use practitioners. We are strengthening an outcome-led approach that will help us determine management objectives for each part of the estate, and the best mix of land uses and management approaches for delivering those objectives.

  • The fourth corporate development programme is strategic business planning, which has an important workforce planning element, where we are looking at future skills required to deliver our key commitments, and how we sustain our effectiveness within the limits of our reward package and finite budgets. We are currently looking at how we best focus our limited direct operational capacity to best complement what can be provided by the contract sector, and how we achieve the best team configuration to achieve joined-up land management and make the most of our limited local presence.

  • Other elements of our strategic business planning programme include:

    • how we link spatial and financial planning to ensure that are land management plans are financially as well as environmentally sustainable;

    • how we achieve sustainable income when receipts from the likes of timber and renewables can fluctuate considerably. Our aim is to continue to diversify income sources; to work with our commercial customers and partners to help maintain stable market conditions; to use our carry-over facility to help smooth out income flows; and to ‘invest to save’ when resources are available.

    • how we harness IT for helping our work out on the ground, minimising data handling and further embracing e-commerce;

    • how to do procurement in a way that is locally responsive but meets the regulatory and good practice requirements.

The National Forest Estate - the land that is managed by Forest Enterprise Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers and the people of Scotland - is a treasured national asset. As well as benefiting our environment and people, it also makes an important contribution to Scotland's economy.

The economic contribution of Scotland’s National Forest Estate (PDF 719KB), published in March 2016, evaluates the contribution of the estate to Scotland's economy.

View of forest with text: "Scotland's National Forest Estate generates £395 MILLION FOR SCOTLAND'S ECONOMY each year and SUPPORTS OVER 11,000 JOBS."

Key facts from the report

The National Forest Estate generates £395 million of Gross Value Added (GVA) every year for the Scottish economy – that’s more than £1 million every day. Of this:

  • Forestry and timber processing accounts for £285 million of GVA

  • Tourism and recreation contributes £110 million of GVA, from over 9 million visits to the estate per year

11,015 full time equivalent jobs (FTE) are supported by activity on the National Forest Estate. Of these:

  • 7,225 FTE jobs were in forestry and timber processing

  • 3,790 FTE jobs were in recreation and tourism

a forwarder in a forest

Why is this important?

The report assesses the number of jobs provided by the estate, and the value of the wide range of activities that the estate supports. It highlights why the estate is so important to Scotland and, as the first report of its kind, it also provides a baseline against which to measure its future performance and management.

Supported employment

The jobs supported by the National Forest Estate include direct employment with Forestry Commission Scotland, Forest Enterprise Scotland, and the Forestry Commission, as well as jobs from the harvesting, timber transport, timber processing, venison, renewable energy and tourism sectors.

Many of the jobs supported by activity on the National Forest Estate are in rural and remote locations where employment opportunities are limited.

Whitelee wind farm

Wide range of activities

The report represents the wide range of activities that take place on the estate. In addition to sustainable forestry and timber production, estate activities include renewable energy developments, agriculture, community projects, conservation and recreation and tourism.

Diverse benefits

Of course, the National Forest Estate doesn't just deliver economic benefits. It also provides diverse habitats for wildlife, fights climate change, supports health and communities, and creates some of our most beautiful landscapes.

7stanes biking

Economic contribution of forestry in Scotland

This report is focused on Scotland's National Forest Estate. You may also be interested to read the companion report which assesses the forestry sector in Scotland: The economic contribution of forestry in Scotland.

Key commitments:

  • We are restoring around 85% of areas on ancient woodland sites to largely native species. The remaining areas will be enhanced through our management.

  • We aim to increase broadleaved tree cover from the current 8% of woodland cover to around 20%.

  • We are committed to maintaining the best open and woodland habitats in good ecological condition.

  • We will identify particularly vulnerable species for which the National Forest Estate is important and take specific conservation action.

  • We will safeguard archaeological sites through our planning and management and recognise special places and features with local cultural meaning.

Key priorities:

  • We are strengthening our approach to ecosystem service delivery, and have recently appointed a new Environment and Ecosystem Services Manager. Priorities include how we sustain and improve the estate’s water environment, and assessing the estate’s stock of carbon in its soils and vegetation.

  • Our planners are exploring how to significantly expand the area of broadleaved woodland on the estate to create functioning habitat networks, but in a way that is complementary to our commitment to sustain the productive potential of the Estate. This in part means developing our approach to productive broadleaved woodland, in places where management is feasible and environmentally appropriate. It also means looking for opportunities to create broadleaved woodlands in areas of less potential for productive conifer crops.

  • We are committed to sustaining, and where appropriate, restoring high priority habitats. Our biggest programme is removal of non-native trees from ancient woodland sites and we are exploring how we best do this with ecological integrity, but also avoiding health and safety issues (for example associated with standing dead trees) and achieving operational efficiency.

  • We also have a significant programme of managing and restoring open habitats like lowland raised mires and coastal dunes. With stakeholders we are seeking an appropriate balance between restoring open habitats and woodland removal by focusing on sites with the highest ecological potential. We are having to plan the pace of restoration programmes in accordance with available resources.

  • We have agreed priority species with stakeholders, which also tend to be good indicator species for wider habitat quality. We are actively monitoring for Chalara in ash and the Phytophthora of juniper and responding in accordance with national policy. As part of our work to conserve priority ground-nesting birds, we work with government and stakeholders on where and when predator control is an appropriate part of the management regime.

  • We take a very proactive approach to safeguarding archaeological sites and design our open space networks to incorporate significant features, instituting sympathetic livestock grazing regimes where feasible. Our professional archaeologist advises us on the best way to incorporate appropriate woodland management into cultural landscapes.