Scottish Government Responses To The Lead Committee's Report On The Forestry And Land Management (Scotland) Bill

MSPs unanimously agreed the general principles of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill at a Stage 1 debate at the Scottish Parliament on 7 November 2017.

The lead committee for the Bill, the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (RECC) heard evidence from industry representatives which was published in July this year, and this was summarised in a previous blog post.

In October, the RECC then published a Stage 1 report on the Bill making a number of recommendations. The Scottish Government published responses to the report in early November, ahead of the debate.

In this blog, we will look at some of the Scottish Government's responses.

Whilst the Scottish Government agreed to consider some of the recommendations further, we have summarised some of the responses where they have agreed with the RECC's recommendations.

Organisational Structures

The Scottish Government agreed to provide a statement setting out how it will manage and administer its forestry functions under the new organisational structure.

The Bill will include a definition of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) in the Scottish Forestry Strategy. The RECC recommended this in order to provide clarity and guidance on what this will mean in practice.

The Scottish Government agreed with the recommendation to set out how the Forestry Strategy will integrate with UK Forestry Standard which is the current framework for delivery of SFM in the UK.

Tree Health and Cross Border Functions

The RECC recommended that a framework agreement for a continued cross-border approach of forest research and tree health be put in place before the Bill comes in to force. The Scottish Government agreed, and explained that that they intend to have a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK and Welsh Governments in place to underpin their functions.

Management of land by Scottish Ministers

In order to address concerns expressed by the industry, The Scottish Government will examine whether drafting changes should be made to the Bill at Stage 2 to clarify when afforested land will be designated to be managed according to SFM or sustainable development. They have however agreed to include a definition of sustainable development in the Forestry Strategy.

The RECC put forward concerns in relation to compulsory purchase provisions in the Bill and noted that current compulsory purchase guidance does not include reference to sustainable development. The Scottish Government responded with a commitment...

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