Forestry industry worth almost £1bn a year

A lorry lifts wood Image copyright Forestry Commission Scotland

The forestry industry is now worth almost £1bn a year to the Scottish economy, according to new figures.

Timber production and jobs in the sector have increased by half since the last review in 2008.

Industry leaders have said new processing techniques are producing much more valuable wood products.

The work of the sector has also enabled other key Scottish industries to grow, such as in the energy, construction and tourism.

Foresters are now harvesting the benefits of a tree-planting boom in the 1970s and 1980s, with trees put into the ground then now reaching maturity.

This has led to a massive expansion of the timber industry - from harvesting, with contractors now employing highly efficient tree-felling machines, through to sawmilling and processing where new techniques are creating high-quality wood products for house construction, cladding and flooring.

Significant boost

The report, from Forestry Commission Scotland, points out that a total of 25,000 people are now employed in forestry-related businesses in Scotland - including tourism and leisure.

There has been a significant boost to employment levels in the forest management and processing sector with more than 19,500 people now working in the industry - a jump of 6,500 compared with the previous report in 2008.

In 2008 timber production was about five million tonnes each year. It is currently sitting at record levels of 7.5 million tonnes per annum.

Image copyright Forestry Commission Scotland

Speaking at a meeting with top forestry leaders later, Environment Minister Dr Aileen McLeod will officially launch the new Forestry Commission Scotland report.

She is expected to say that Scottish forestry is "very much a hidden success story" of the Scottish economy.

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.

"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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