Discussing The Future of Forestry in Scotland with Dr Aileen McLeod MSP
On 23 September ICF Policy and Development Officer Alex McAuley attended a meeting at Scottish Government offices with Dr Aileen McLeod. Here Alex discusses the aims and outcomes of this important meeting, which aired the Institutes concerns about UK forestry education.
I recently joined ICF Executive Director Shireen Chambers and President David Henderson-Howat in a meeting with the Scottish Minister for the Environment, Dr Aileen McLeod, to discuss the future of forestry in Scotland. Underpinning the conversations was the need to continue to raise professional standards in forestry and arboriculture in order to promote the sustainable management of Scotland’s trees and forests.
We were keen to point out our concern that insufficient numbers of young people are undertaking qualifications in forestry. It is of particular importance in Scotland where many young people from an urban background have little knowledge of career opportunities in a rural sector. ICF feels that this especially true for girls. The Institute will work closely with Scottish Parliamentarians to develop clear career pathways and explore ways to educate the public about the exciting opportunities that can be found with the sector.
Dr Aileen Mcleod MSP Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
The Institute also stressed to the Minister, whilst at an early stage, the importance that the transfer of the powers and duties of the Forestry Commissioners are carried out in a way that fully recognises the long-term nature of investment in forestry. We believe that it’s essential that the Scottish Government continues to engage with the sector before any measures are put in place. Forestry Commission GB, we are informed, will continue to represent Scotland’s interests internationally for the time being.
ICF was informed that the Scottish Plant Health Strategy will be launched in March. While the details are in the process of being finalised, it is anticipated that there will be a Scottish Chief Plant Officer and a Centre of Expertise. We were assured that the strategy will be aligned to the work of Plant Health Services across the UK, as pests and diseases do not recognise national boundaries and it is therefore important that any responses must be co-ordinated UK wide. ICF will continue to keep a watching brief and notify members of any developments.
Image courtesy of the Forestry Commission. © Isobel Cameron