NEW forestry legislation for Scotland is on the way, in the shape of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill.

Promising a more modern approach to forestry development, support and regulation, the bill comes alongside Scottish Government plans to shake up the sector's organisational structure, creating a new executive agency 'Forestry and Land Scotland'.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s forests and woodlands are among our most valuable rural assets and our ambition is for them to expand and flourish.

“They contribute significantly to our ambitious climate change targets, soaking up about 10 million tonnes of CO2 each year. And they help to build growth and prosperity, contributing £1 billion each year to the Scottish economy and supporting 25,000 jobs.

“The bill and other changes announced today will enable us to deliver on our bold ambitions. Existing staff will transfer to new bodies as civil servants and I value their knowledge and experience. We will continue to work to ensure forestry plays a leading role in Scottish communities for generations to come.”

Commenting, Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said that the first new major forestry legislation in Scotland for 50 years must secure the long-term future of an industry via hard-and-fast planting targets.

"Forestry is the modern-day engine-room of the Scottish rural economy, and Scotland is the powerhouse of the UK forestry sector," said Mr Goodall. "Changes to the governance of forestry have been inevitable since the devolution settlement, especially as there has been change elsewhere in the UK. The aim in Scotland must be to put in place a legislative framework that suits forestry here.

"The Scottish forestry success story needs more planting of modern, productive forests to secure a bright future. 21st century forests are great places for wildlife and people, they provide a raw material to build homes, tackle climate change and deliver tens of thousands of rural jobs."