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Forestry now adding £1bn to Scotland’s economy

Aileen McLeodForestry is now a  one billion pound industry in Scotland, with the number of jobs in the sector increasing by 50% since the economic downturn, a new report has revealed.

The value of the industry has shot up from £670 million when the last survey was undertaken in 2008.

Over that period the number working in forestry and wood processing has risen from 13,000 to 19,500.

Many of these jobs are located in rural locations and are the sector helps other key Scottish industries grow, such as in the energy, construction, tourism and potentially biotechnology fields.

Speaking at a meeting with top forestry leaders later today, Environment Minister Aileen McLeod (pictured) will officially launch the new Forestry Commission Scotland report:

Dr McLeod will say: “Scottish forestry is very much a hidden success story.

“It’s no surprise that given the increase in timber production over the past seven years that the sector’s contribution to the Scottish economy has grown with it.

“However, it is the size of the economic growth that is really impressive. And the 50 per cent increase in employment within the timber sector is brilliant news.

“With projected increases in wood fibre availability over the next 20 years and the industry’s appetite for innovation, adding value and investment, the Scottish Government looks forward to continuing to support this important sector.

“Whilst this report focuses on the economics, we should not forget the other key benefits that forestry brings too. Our forests and woodlands create beautiful landscapes, are crucial in mitigating climate change and are increasingly recognised for the positive impacts they have on people’s health and well-being.

“Scotland’s forestry sector is clearly delivering on many fronts and I want more people to know just what a success story it is and its benefits and contribution to Scotland’s economy, environment, people and communities.”

In 2008 report timber production was about 5 million tonnes a year and is now at a record 7.5m tonnes per annum.

Welcoming the report, Stuart Goodall, chief executive of CONFOR, the trade association which promotes wood and forestry said: “This report demonstrates the growing importance of Scotland’s forest based industry to both rural areas and the national economy, an industry that has bucked the trend and posted impressive growth since the downturn in 2008.

“Scotland has some of the most technologically advanced sawmills in the world and the maturing of the forestry sector is supporting an increasing number and variety of relatively well-paid rural jobs.

“It is a unique sector, the only established industry where greater economic activity reduces carbon in the atmosphere, a topical achievement as the world comes together in Paris in December to tackle climate change.

“We welcome the support that the Scottish Government has given to this booming industry and look forward to delivering even more jobs, economic growth and carbon reductions for the people of Scotland.”

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