CONDITIONS for growth and success in Scotland's forestry and timber sector have 'never been better', according to Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

Speaking at this year’s Confor dinner, Mr Ewing said that 2019 would be a 'pivotal year' as forestry became fully devolved to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament, allowing him to announce a range of measures to boost further growth in the sector, including:

• Providing £7 million for timber transport projects across Scotland;

• Investing £20 million on replanting across the National Forest Estate by Forestry and Land Scotland;

• Building and upgrading 200 km of forest roads on the National Forest Estate to allow better access to the timber;

• Investing £7 million in deer management on the National Forest Estate.

Mr Ewing said: “2019 is a pivotal year as we are celebrating 100 years of public forestry. At the same time, we are introducing the foundations for the next 100 years through full devolution of forestry, new legislation and the creation of two new agencies.

“We are entering a new chapter in forestry and my ambitions are stronger than ever, as is my commitment to working with the sector. The Scottish Government is making a huge investment in the future of forestry, because we all have a stake in the future benefits that flow from these trees; be they as resources for manufacturers, inspiring classrooms for our children or as massive carbon stores.

“Planting more trees and growing our forests and woodlands must be a shared national endeavour. Forestry businesses are key to achieving our ambitions – I hope they too will do all they can to invest in forestry’s future in the coming year and beyond. ”

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said: “Scotland’s forestry industry has come a long way in the last 100 years and the future is an exciting one. We have an updated Forestry Strategy, new government agencies for Scotland and a maturing industry worth £1 billion annually to our economy and providing more than 25,000 green jobs.

"I welcome the Scottish Government’s efforts to help secure future wood supply, including from the national forest estate which is an important timber supplier now and in the future. The forestry industry has the potential to play a greater role partnering with government in realising the opportunities for further growth, including delivering on Scotland's climate change ambitions by planting more trees and using more wood in construction.”