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FWN38 Autumn 2022 – Industry Update

14 December 2022

Figures have now been released by Scottish Forestry for 2021, showing that despite a planting season badly disrupted by a spate of winter storms, Scotland achieved nearly 80% of the yearly woodland creation target.

A total of 10,840 hectares of new woodland was created in Scotland last year, with 42% of this being the delivery of new native species woodlands. Whilst there were enough woodland creation schemes approved by Scottish Forestry to hit their ambitious targets of 13,500 hectares of woodland last year, the forestry sector was hit badly by both the need to divert resources into tackling the millions of trees brought down by winter storms, and by the wider economic storm that is driving the cost of operations to new dizzying heights.

The total land area now covered in woodland across Scotland now stands at 19%- a significant way ahead of Wales, England and Norther Ireland with figures of 15%, 10% and 9% respectively.

Scotland once again delivered the bulk of new woodland creation across the UK, with 10,480 hectares planted in Scotland compared against 2,260 hectares in England, 580 hectares in Wales, and 540 hectares in Northern Ireland.

The forestry sector is facing continued high demand, with huge appetite for woodland creation continuing, but also now competing for the same small resource pool as many of these windblown areas affected by winter storms- some 8,000 hectares of woodland was damaged this winter by Storm Arwen, and many of these areas will require contractors to fell and make safe these trees, as well as replanting these after clearance.

In order to meet the continued growth of the sector and Scotland’s ambitious planting targets, Scottish Forestry, the Scottish Government agency responsible for forestry policy, support and regulations, has implemented a new operating model in Conservancy [regional] offices. Alongside continual improvements being made to working practices, this new model includes creating a number of new job opportunities, allowing Scottish Forestry to keep up with demand.

Update to FGS Claims and Payments Guidance (From Briefing Note 41: February 2022)

Scottish Forestry have changed the FGS Claims and Payments guidance to state:

Number of FGS claims you can submit and their Charter Times for capital claims processing.

  • You can only claim for the items set out in your FGS contract once your work has been completed. 
  • Claims processing can take up to 10 weeks (as detailed in the Scottish Forestry Customer Charter). 
  • The claim year-end period (from January to March) is when the majority of capital claims are submitted please ensure, during this period, that you only submit one capital claim per FGS contract, and only once all your claim year activities have been undertaken and completed on This approach is in-line with good financial and audit key control principles; Scottish Forestry cannot accept a new claim whilst a previous claim, or associated variation is being processed as the processing may impact upon future payments or modifications to your FGS contract schedule of works. 
  • The Small Woodlands Loan Scheme can help with cash flow management for FGS woodland creation applications.

Please also refer to the FGS Claims and Payments guidance to see details of how activities that are dependent on the completion of associated works must be claimed (e.g. gorse removal associated with initial planting).

overhead view of forest

Felling Permission Applications

Fast-tracking of Felling Permissions for storm-damaged trees, and their expedited processing during the period following Storm Arwen, has now come to an end. Owners and land managers should be mindful that, with relatively few exemptions, it is an offence to fell trees in Scotland without formal permission in place (a Felling Permission from Scottish Forestry), even if these are windblown trees.

If you are in any doubt as to whether you require permission to fell your trees, further guidance can be sought from Scottish Forestry’s “Felling Permission – Application Guidance” or from your local Scottish Forestry Conservancy Office.

Felling Permission – Application Guidance

Ben Law, SAC Consulting

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