Policy on control of woodland removal

The historic deforestation of Scotland

In Scotland extensive woodland removal has occurred through a combination of natural climate change as well as human activities such as deliberate change in land use. Since 1990 there has been significant woodland removal associated with landscape design, restoration of priority habitats and development such as housing or wind farms. The Scottish Government is committed to maintain and enhance Scotland’s forests and woodland resources for the benefit of current and future generations. To achieve this, we need to prevent inappropriate woodland loss (Scotland’s Forestry Strategy 2019-29).

A policy on the control of woodland removal

Control of woodland removal booklet cover

In Scotland there is a strong presumption in favour of protecting and expanding our forest and woodland and making sure that these are sustainably managed. The Scottish Government has developed policy to provide direction for decisions on woodland removal in Scotland. It is relevant to all woodland removal for the purpose of conversion to another land use.

Woodland removal should be kept to a minimum and where woodland is felled, it should be replanted. The policy only supports woodland removal where it would achieve significant and clearly defined public benefits. In some cases compensatory planting may form part of this balance.

The policy supports the Scottish Government's’ ambition to increase Scotland’s woodland cover from around 19% to 21% of the Scottish land area by 2032.

We have also created accompanying Implementation Guidance (PDF 269KB). This applies to both consenting authorities and applicants, ensuring a consistent implementation of policy. Our standard Scoping Opinion (PDF 75KB) is available.