We Saved Forestry Commission Scotland
Woodland Trust Scotland is celebrating after a last minute victory in our campaign to save Forestry Commission Scotland from being swallowed up into the mainstream civil service.
The Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill was passed by unanimous agreement in the Scottish Parliament. Opposition MSPs successfully passed amendments which will require forestry to be managed by independent public agencies, rather than under a new Government department as initially proposed. MSPs argued this approach would help to preserve the existing skills of Forestry Commission Scotland and could also protect the service from future privatisation. A number of other amendments were also passed against the wishes of the Scottish Government, as Labour, Conservative, Greens and Liberal Democrats acted together. The Minister Fergus Ewing expressed disappointment at some of the final changes, but emphasised that he respected the will of parliament. He said the Bill’s “modern approach” to forestry development would support the sector, create new jobs and lead to new social and recreational opportunities for people in Scotland, as well as mitigating climate change. Meanwhile, Claudia Beamish stated that “Labour’s amendments maintain the Forestry Commission but within a devolved settlement and adds a vital layer of parliamentary scrutiny.”
It is thanks to the ongoing efforts of public affairs manager Charles Dundas that so many MSPs were equipped with the information to lead them to these conclusions.