A bill giving Scottish ministers powers in relation to the management of forestry and other land is open to public submissions as it begins its stage 1 scrutiny at Holyrood.

The Parliament’s Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee is encouraging individuals and organisations to share their views on the potential impact of the new devolved legislation, as it examines the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

The bill has three stated policy aims:

  • enabling forestry to be fully accountable to Scottish ministers;
  • creating a modernised legislative framework to support, develop and regulate forestry;
  • allowing Scottish ministers to manage forestry and other land with greater flexibility.

It will require ministers to produce a Scottish Government Forestry Strategy based on sustainable forest management, and give them new powers over subjects such as tree health and the ability to conduct research, while updating the regulatory regime and enforcement powers for felling and restocking trees. It allows greater flexibility and confers wider powers in relation to land management, with a focus on sustainable development, including powers of compulsory purchase. 

Committee convener Edward Mountain MSP commented: “Forestry is a key area with the potential to bring huge social and economic benefits to Scotland’s rural economy. This bill will take Scotland a step closer to fully completing devolution of the sector, as well as providing Scottish ministers with wider powers to manage forestry and other land. We want to make sure that this updated approach to forestry and land management in Scotland is fair, proportionate and fit for purpose.”

Click here to view the call for evidence. The deadline for responses is Wednesday 16 August 2017.