Yes you heard it from me – or rather I heard it from Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, Richard Lochhead. He was speaking at the Forestry, Wood and the Low Carbon Economy conference in Dunblane last week.
His speech covered a number of important and very current issues including:
- the importance of forestry and farming;
- the role of trees in managing carbon;
- forestry and the Scottish economy;
- the positive role of the Sustainable Land Use Strategy; and
- the need for the ‘right tree in the right place’.
The audience was largely made up of people from the forestry industry and many seemed to feel that his speech was the most positive they have heard any cabinet member make on forestry in a long time.
But was it really sexy? That leap is easier for some to make than others but I think it is fair to say there was no shortage of debate and excitement about the potential of woods and trees to transform Scotland’s housing and their contribution to meeting Scotland’s emissions reduction targets.
The stumbling block for most people is the reality of Scotland’s planting rates. We have the best grant rates for a long time but actual trees in the ground are well off the 10-15,000 hectares a year we are aiming for.
What I did find positive about the day was Jim McLaren’s (President of NFU Scotland) speech about the role of woodland on farms. He raised his concerns on where trees will be planted but also talked positively about the multi-benefits trees offer to farmers. This is something the Woodland Trust is also working hard to promote. You can find out more on our website.