Policy on control of woodland removal

The historic deforestation of Scotland

Globally, deforestation causes about 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. It also has a huge impact on the world's biodiversity. In Scotland, extensive deforestation has occurred through a combination of natural climate change as well as human activities such as agriculture.

By 1900, only 5% of our land cover remained as forest, of which less than a third was ancient, semi-natural woodland. During the 20th century, however, reforestation increased Scotland's woodland resource to 17% of our land area.

Expanding Scotland's woodlands

At a national scale Scotland is continuing to expand its woodland resource. Nevertheless, many individual woodlands have been removed over the last few decades as part of a 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.

A policy on the control of woodland removal

Policy on the control of woodland removalThe Scottish Government has developed a policy on the control of woodland removal (PDF 1.9Mb) to provide direction for decisions on woodland removal in Scotland.

The policy is in support of the Government's Scottish Forestry Strategy, the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 and the Scottish Government's woodland creation target to create 100,000 of new woodland over the period 2012-2022.

The policy's principal aims are:

  • To provide a strategic framework for appropriate woodland removal
  • To support the maintenance and expansion of forest cover in Scotland
  • To contribute towards achieving an appropriate balance between forested and non-forested land in Scotland
  • To support climate change mitigation and adaptation in Scotland
  • To provide a sound basis for Scotland's participation in the global debate and actions on deforestation
  • To develop a clear understanding of the nature and extent of future woodland removal in Scotland.

Forestry Commission Scotland has published guidance to FCS staff on implementing the Scottish Government's policy on control of woodland removal (PDF 216K)

The guidance, aimed at FCS staff, is intended to help them facilitate implementation of the policy, both in their own work and in the advice that they provide to others. Although aimed at FCS staff, others are welcome to use this guidance if they find it helpful in addressing either the above policy or the statutory guidance on woodland removal contained in paragraph 2180 of Scottish Planning Policy

For further information please contact Maida Ballarini: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.