Warning of Scottish timber industry decline

Image caption, More trees are currently being felled than planted

Scotland's timber industry has warned it could face serious decline unless there is a significant increase in the amount of commercial tree planting.

There has been a boom in the Scottish timber business in recent years but many more trees are being felled than planted.

Industry leaders have said jobs and investment will be under threat if the imbalance is not tackled.

The Scottish government insisted that any decline was a temporary dip.

In recent years, sawmills, paper producers and board manufacturers have been fuelled by the country's post-war plantings.

But the amount of land under productive forestry is shrinking as replanting fails to keep pace with the number of trees being cut down.

Critics believe environmental opposition to closely-planted conifers has led to more emphasis on native and amenity woodland.

They have warned that Scotland could face a shortage of wood for processing in the coming decades if more productive forestry is not encouraged.

Stewart Goodall, of the Confederation of Forest Industries, said red tape and environmental objections held up applications to create plantations.

He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "If you want to plant new areas of forest you need to go through the approval process, putting applications into government.

"We are seeing situations where people looking to plant areas of forest are taking up to two years to get approval and it's costing as much as £40,000 to get that approval in place.

"That's just a massive disincentive."

The Scottish government said it was committed to improved forestry grants and a fast-track planning process.

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