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Scottish Climate Change Bill

On 4th November 2008 Michael Russell the Scottish Minister launched a consultation that seeks views on how the Scottish Government can make better use of the assets of Scotland's national forest estate in the fight against climate change.

We believe that whilst it is important that we support the fight against climate change, some of the proposals outlined in the consultation paper represent the biggest challenge to our jobs, the integrity of the FC and the sustainability of the Scottish Forestry sector that we have seen for over ten years.

Therefore whilst it is important that we support those elements of the proposals that will make a positive contribution to tackling climate change, it is essential that all members take an active role to help oppose the plans to lease long-term full management and cutting rights over at least 25% of the National Forest Estate in Scotland.

Latest News

18th March 2009

Dear colleagues

On Friday 13th 2009 the Environment Minister in Scotland provided a statement to the Scottish Parliament that stated the Scottish Government would not be pursuing the leasing option within the Climate Change Bill (Scotland). This is excellent news and is a testament to the work undertaken by FCTU Scotland who campaigned, lobbied and petitioned not just politicians, or stakeholders in the forestry industry but engaged with the Scottish public and gained a huge groundswell of support for the stance being taken by the FCTU in Scotland.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our union activists, full time officials and those advisors who helped bring about this tremendous result. For those of you who took the fight to the Minister, the Parliament and to the village halls and other locations around Scotland you are to be applauded for not only raising the profile of the campaign but convincing others that leasing would be the wrong thing to do in Scotland.

I am sure we will face other threats such as this in the future but we now know that by having a sound argument and union members prepared to fight for a worthwhile cause then we should be able to meet future challenges as we did this one. I hope that FCTU Scotland will at some point soon be able to pull together a report on this issue so that we can learn from the experience.

Well done and best wishes,

Allan MacKenzie
FCTU Secretary

13 MARCH 2009 NEWS RELEASE No: 12284

Forestry to make bigger impact on climate change

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham is to drive forward a number of options which will ensure Scotland’s national forests make a bigger impact on tackling climate change.

These options will include developing joint ventures on renewable energy projects, making the Scotland Rural Development Programme more effective in stimulating woodland creation, urging the Treasury to consider tax incentives and continuing to dispose of surplus land to raise income to establish new woodlands.

After careful consideration, the Minister has written to the Conveners of the relevant Parliamentary Committees, Maureen Watt MSP and Patrick Harvie MSP, to inform them that the proposal of leasing parts of Scotland’s national forests to private companies will not be taken forward.

Instead, Forestry Commission Scotland will now work to develop the other options to raise the money needed for increased tree planting to contribute fully to climate change targets.

Ms Cunningham said:

“Forests and woodlands play an important role in the fight against climate change. By planting more trees we can lock up more carbon and reduce the harmful impact our emissions have on the planet.

“Current planting rates in Scotland are too low and we must dramatically increase them if we are to make a significant contribution towards the Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 and increase woodland cover in Scotland.

“The recent consultation exercise put forward a number of options for consideration which would help maximise the use of the national forest estate in tackling climate change. We are keen to take some of those forward. I have asked Forestry Commission Scotland to continue developing arrangements for joint venture agreements for renewable energy projects. I have also asked that further work be undertaken to find other ways of raising more money for woodland creation. The consultation responses are very helpful in this process.

“However, a consultation is exactly that: an opportunity to explore ideas and gather in views and opinions.  I have taken a good look at the options put forward and all the responses. After giving this serious consideration and in view of the comments we received, I have decided not to take leasing any further.

“On taking this decision, we should be under no illusion that without the leasing option, we now need to consider ways of raising funds in order to plant more trees such as those that I have already mentioned.” 

Options that were supported by key stakeholders in the consultation and will be explored further by Forestry Commission Scotland include:

· Exploring whether the Scotland Rural Development Programme could give more help to stimulate woodland creation, by making farm woodlands more attractive as an option for land managers;

· Urging the Treasury to examine how tax incentives can be used to generate more planting; and

· Developing the use of well-established arrangements whereby the Commission disposes of surplus land which does not meet Scottish Government objectives. The income generated is used to buy other areas of land to create new woodlands which provides economic, social and environmental benefits. The Commission has already been doing this since 2005.

“Throughout Scotland this was the news our members had been hoping beyond hope would be the outcome of our vigorous campaign and as a result the lobbying, petitioning, and local meetings persuaded many people and politicians that leasing was the entirely wrong option.

From the Ministers statement above we can see that there is still some way to go in getting the necessary finance to stimulate tree planting on the scale required to meet the targets set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Bill.  The FCTU look forward to meeting the Minister on April 21st to talk through some of the challenges facing us.

The FCTU in Scotland would like to express their thanks to all those who backed our campaign and voiced their objection to the leasing proposal, it just proves that sometimes if enough of us band together we can make a difference”. Ends.

View Earlier News >

Get Involved! - Action That You Can Take Now

We are grateful to everyone who has already offered comments on the proposals and particularly to everyone who has already contacted their MSP in order to raise his/her awareness of the consultation and our concerns with the proposals. Specific actions which you can take right now are:

  1. Spread The Word: Please talk to your colleagues about the proposals; encourage them to be active and to respond to the proposals, and encourage all non union members to join up and help us protect our jobs and Scottish Forestry.
  2. Tell Us What You Think: Many of you have already responded to our earlier note but we would still welcome any thoughts and ideas that anyone has on the proposals and how we should respond to them. All comments will be carefully considered as part of our response.
  3. Contact your MSP: Although we shall be contacting all MSPs centrally, they are more likely to respond to direct contact from local constituents, particularly when they receive several letters on the same subject. Please contact your MSP, make sure that they are aware of the proposals and tell them what you think.
  4. Attend your local communication meeting: FCS are arranging eight communication meetings around Scotland over the coming weeks. Each of these will be followed by a separate meeting for union members and we strongly encourage everyone to come along and offer your views.
  5. Message to Partner Organisations: we are asking representatives of all environmental, recreation and conservation groups based in Scotland for your support in opposing the land lease element of the proposals and would ask that your organisation join with us in this endeavour, by ensuring that your organisation responds to the consultation, and by using any available opportunity to raise your concerns with MSPs and other locally elected officials.
  6. Sign Our Petition: Please sign our online petition and use every opportunity to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to do so. This link to the petition page is:
  7. Thank you for your support.

Whilst it is important to support the fight against climate change, it is equally important that we fight against any ill-conceived plans that threaten our jobs and the future of the FC. It is essential that all staff take an active role defending against these threats; please contact your MSP, send us your views and attend one of the communications meeting near you.

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