Protecting Woods and Trees Locally in Scotland
Suzie Saunders is Woodland Trust Scotland’s Policy Advocate, Planning and Local Authorities. Suzie has shared some news and successes from the recent Local Government elections:
In Spring 2022 the Woodland Trust Scotland engaged with the Scottish Local Government Elections to ensure trees and woodlands are at the heart of decision making in your local council.
The Scottish Local Government Elections took place this year on the 5th of May 2022. During the election, all 1,227 council seats were up for grabs. Candidates from all political parties large and small along with independent candidates canvassed for their chance to represent their local communities.
This year’s election was fought in the wake of ‘Party Gate’ and a cost-of-living crisis, both of which impacted this year’s results with the Scottish Conservatives suffering a loss of 63 seats. However, we must not forget that we are also facing the intertwined climate and nature crises. Knowing the role trees can play in addressing both crises, the Woodland Trust Scotland took the opportunity the local elections provided to secure party pledges for woods and trees. We did this using our Manifesto ‘Woods and Trees for People, Climate, and Nature’.
Our engagement with manifesto writers ensured inclusion of our election asks in political party manifestos. Here are some of the great commitments we secured:
- Scottish Labour – Promised to “Invest in Scotland’s natural environment, protecting woodlands and local biodiversity, contributing to national tree planting targets including an aim of 20% tree coverage in our towns and cities.”
- Scottish Conservatives – “Scottish Conservative councillors will act to protect and enhance ancient woodland while supporting the delivery of tree planting targets. They will also support nature corridors plantations in every local authority, alongside local woodland expansion and riparian tree planting.”
- Scottish Greens – Committed to “Support local consultations and contributions to the Land Reform Bill and Regional Land Use Partnerships Pilot, and the rollout of the National Register of Ancient Woodlands.”
These pledges place the Woodland Trust in a great position to engage with newly elected councillors and remind them of their parties promises.
We are now 1 month on from the elections and most councils have been formed, leaders have been elected, and planning committees established. Therefore, we are now writing to councillors to organise introductory meetings. In the meetings we will introduce them to the work of the Woodland Trust and our amazing volunteers and brief them on the key issues for woods and trees in their local area.
This influencing work will ensure local priorities for woods and trees like restoring and expanding Scotland’s rainforest are supported by councils. Our engagement will also support the outstanding work of our Threat Detector Volunteers by getting councillors up to speed on the impacts of development on ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees.
Following the elections, we are super excited to grow our work with local authorities and look forward to making an impact locally for woods and trees.