Report reveals National Forest Estate benefits

Forest District Manager Rob Soutar discusses recreation investment in Galloway Forest Park with Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod.

Forest District Manager Rob Soutar discusses recreation investment in Galloway Forest Park with Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod.

Scotland’s National Forest Estate is generating £395 million every year for the Scottish economy – that’s more than £1 million each day to support industry, jobs and many rural communities.

Over 11,000 jobs, in both the forestry and timber processing and tourism industries, are also supported through activity on the Estate.

Around nine million visits are made to the Estate each year, generating nearly £110 million for the visitor economy.

The figures are revealed in a new Forest Enterprise Scotland report which is the first comprehensive economic assessment of the National Forest Estate.

Welcoming the report, Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod said: “The National Forest Estate is certainly one of Scotland’s greatest natural assets. It is more relevant today than ever before as it provides so many different benefits to Scottish society.

“The unique mix of public land assets - forests, woodlands and open habitats - delivers for industry, fights climate change and supports tourism, health and communities too.

“This new report will act as a valuable baseline for further assessments of how well the Estate is working for Scotland’s people and the economy.”

The National Forest Estate was formed nearly 100 years ago, with the first properties being purchased and planted with trees to build up a strategic timber reserve after the First World War.

Although the need for timber for future war efforts was not needed, successive governments continued to invest in the expansion and diversification of the National Forest Estate and the growing range of activities it hosts.

Over the decades, the Estate has seen huge transformations. There has been a marked increase in timber production flowing to the wood processing sector, conservation management of iconic natural and heritage assets and landscape scale restoration projects.

More recently, there has been the development of starter farms, renewable energy projects and the investment in highly popular visitor attractions. These attractions include wildlife viewing and world famous mountain biking centres such as the 7stanes and Cuningar Loop, one of the legacies of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

The Estate now covers 650,000 ha (9% of Scotland’s land area) and is managed by Forest Enterprise Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Simon Hodge, Chief Executive of Forest Enterprise Scotland added: “The National Forest Estate is very much a national treasure which has changed greatly over the years.

“Nowadays, Forest Enterprise Scotland generates around 80% of its income through activities on the Estate, mainly through timber supplies but also through renewables development, venison and property sales.

“We deliver economic benefits for Scotland and support key Scottish Government objectives through a variety of means, each of which adds value on a significant scale.

“Our work ranges from spanning rural development to urban greening, providing opportunities for local businesses or supplying sustainable materials for national industries. In addition to the bulk of this work, we also provide important support to the tourism economy.”