With 18% of land in Scotland covered by woodland, and our forests contributing significantly to the wellbeing of our economy, wildlife and our own lives, we certainly have good cause to celebrate.
Today is International Day of Forests 2017, a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of forests of all types.
Although Scotland has less woodland than many other countries, what we have provides us with significant benefits. It contributes significantly to our economy, with a gross added value for forest industries, including forest related recreation and tourism, of £954 million and supports over 25,000 jobs, mainly in rural areas. In 2014, Scotland was responsible for 62% of the UK timber harvest, and is developing a fast growing wood fuel industry. Our forests help slow climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, storing an estimated 9.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2011, and support a wide range of significantly important plants and animals. They are a valued part of our landscape and part of who we are, connecting us to our past, and contributing to our ongoing physical and mental health and wellbeing.
But our forests are increasingly under threat. With pressure from human activity and competition over land use, the space to grow and expand our woodlands is limited. Pests and disease also pose a threat, which is a bigger concern than previously with the increase of international trade making it easier for pest species to be introduced that slow tree growth, impact timber quality and ultimately kill trees. And then there is the impact of climate change. This not only affects the wildlife living in our forests, but the trees themselves. An increase in extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, affects tree growth and the wider forest resource. Badly managed forests also threaten biodiversity.
To combat these threats, the Scottish Government and organisations, such as Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, are working together to safeguard and improve our forests and woodlands. Through national strategies, regulations and policy they are promoting sustainable forest management practices that will ensure that our forests and woodlands remain fabulous and wonderful for years to come.
Scotland's environment website has a wealth of information and data to help you explore and learn more about Scotland's forests and woodlands.
You can find out more about the condition of Scotland's forests and woodlands, why they are important, the threats they face and what’s being done to look after them under the following sections of the 2014 State of Scotland's environment report:
National Forest Estate: providing a visual analysis of the National Forest Estate managed by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and information on the trees and forests it manages. Use this data tool to aid economic, environmental and social forest-related decision-making and to inform planning assessments and decisions when looking at development of process industries, regional infrastructure and the effect of forestry related actions on communities.
National Forest Inventory: providing information about the size, distribution and composition of all forests and woodlands and is essential for developing and monitoring policies and guidance to support their sustainable management. This application provides a visual analysis for Scotland and is useful for anyone involved in forestry and land management.
With over 20 map layers to explore, you can find out a wealth of information using our map tool - just search under the woodland section in the land data category data.
From where you’ll find ancient woodland and what areas are covered by forest plans, to areas covered by the Woodland Grant Scheme and where there have been felling licence applications, there’s data for everyone.
If you are thinking about making an application to the Forest Grant Scheme or for a forestry felling licence, you'll need to know about significant features or environmental designations that lie within your area of interest.
The AGRI-Environment and forestry Land Information Search is an essential tool for agricultural, forestry and moorland management stakeholders looking for information required for Environmental Impact Assessment and funding applications.
Measuring the growth of a tree over time provides valuable information about the life of the tree and the ecosystem its growing in. This great video from OPAL explains simple ways of working out a trees height and shows how maths can be used in a real-life context.
Look out for part two of ‘It’s all about… fabulous forests and wonderful woodlands’ next week, when we’ll find out what the Scotland’s environment partners are doing to help protect and improve our forests and woodlands.
And don’t forget to share your own photos of our fabulous forests and wonderful woodlands. Just tag your photos #ScotEnvironment and we’ll share them on the Scotland’s environment Instagram.
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