SCOTLAND'S new forestry bill must do more to secure the future of the £1 billion sector and its 25,000 jobs – and that must mean planting more trees.

Speaking after the publication of the Rural Economy Committee's Stage 1 report on the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill, Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said: "This report is a good start but more needs to be done to ensure the new legislation secures the future of the forestry and timber sector. I welcome the report's recognition of the importance of securing future wood production – but I am disappointed that this vital issue is to be left for consideration by future forestry strategies without any recognition of its importance in the Bill."

Confidence in the future supply of wood was crucial to maintain jobs and investment and to deliver broader benefits for Scotland's health and environment, said Mr Goodall: "The Bill should say that all future strategies should formally assess future wood supply and how that can be secured."

He was pleased, however, that the committee had responded to Confor's concerns about maintaining forestry expertise in any new structure, and suggestion of a 'chief forester'.

"I also welcome recognition that funds from forest land sales by national agency Forest Enterprise should be reinvested back into forestry, but again, I am disappointed that there is no explicit recognition of the need to protect the large wood resource currently in the stewardship of Scottish Ministers," he added.

There will be a parliamentary debate on the Stage 1 report by November 10, and if approved, the Bill will move onto Stage 2, with final legislation expected in spring 2018.