News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

FCS delivers on the Mackinnon recommendations

The review of forestry planting approvals has been “an exciting opportunity to increase the pace of woodland creation delivery to benefit all stakeholders in Scotland”, according to James Nott, FCS Conservator for Grampian, who has led the implementation of the Mackinnon report.

FCS has been working to make tree planting easier, faster and more transparent following a review of the process by Jim Mackinnon CBE in December 2016. New figures reveal that over 10,000ha of new planting proposals were approved during 2017, an increase of 2,500ha from the previous year.

planting trees

As the programme draws to an end, significant progress has been made to deliver the 21 recommendations made in the review. Some of the highlights are:

  • improved pre-application and consultation process including revised protocols with SNH, SEPA and HES;
  • improved how we manage the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, through threshold changes and a strengthened team dealing with complex cases and EIA casework;
  • improved approvals process and better promotion of the grant scheme, with new guidance to support applicants, and training devised to support the sector and staff;
  • improved management reports published to provide clearer information related to volume of woodland creation; and
  • potential for large planting schemes with 4 local authorities.

Some of these elements will be further developed as part of a new ‘Expanding Woodland Creation’ Programme established by FCS to keep progressing with planting levels and to make further improvements in the future. As part of this we have published some new guidance including:

Woodland Creation Application guidance. This details the stages required for compiling a woodland creation proposal following the Mackinnon Review.

Historic Environment Resource Guidance for forest and woodland managers in Scotland. This has been designed as a route map to the information and advice available to forest and woodland managers in regard to the historic environment, primarily in support of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) Guidelines on Forests and Historic Environment.


Customer Charter. Our commitment for delivery of woodland creation proposals.

Environmental Impact Assessment for Forestry Projects. This guidance provides details on the EIA process and has been updated to include the 2017 changes to the Regulations.