Scottish Forest Sell off

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  • Scottish Forest Sell off
  • Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    I’m not usually one for these things but thought I should bring your attention to it:

    Fight for our forests petition

    Put simply the SNP proposes leasing off a quarter of Scotland’s most profitable forests. This is bad news for biking as the Forestry Commission will have less income and therefore less money for projects such as the 7stanes and trail maintenance. Also there is at the moment no guarantee that the private companies will have to maintain access to any trails they inherit as far as I can see.

    Glentress, Innerleithen and a load of other forests with trails are on the list considered for leasing so it is relevant.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    …or alternatively, putting some of these forests into the hands of commercial operators may result in a more diverse range of forest trails developed on the back of properly researched requirements.

    and yes of course there may be charges associated with using them, but if the trails are good enough….

    Leasing and selling are two rather different things. As for access to the trails they have to continue with it – its the law up here. Access can only be removed for logging and the like.

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    …or alternatively, putting some of these forests into the hands of commercial operators may result in a more diverse range of forest trails developed on the back of properly researched requirements.

    Possibly, but its unlikely to be the private companies first priority. How many trail centres are in private ownership? I can only think of Llandegla off the top of my head.

    Signed. I don’t like the idea of mountain bikers – or anyone else who uses the forests for fun – being marginalised by commercial concerns, or turned into consumers for money making ventures. And yes I realise that this already happens to some extent with FC land, but privatising isn’t going to make it any better.

    >I can only think of Llandegla off the top of my head.<

    Golspie?

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Possibly, but its unlikely to be the private companies first priority.

    Depends on the opportunity costs. How much money is there in timber production?
    Oh and FC have done such a great job at Carron Valley too!

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    How much money is there in timber production?

    SNP reckon about £200 million for the 75yr lease, or a small portion of a new bridge depending on how you value these things 😉

    Was wondering how long it would take for Carron Valley to be mentioned. Fair point, but it also shows how whoever manages the forest can have a strong influence in what happens in it.

    Another private one I’ve just thought of is Drumlanrig which is much more expensive to visit (in the summer at least) as they have to pay for all the trail building themselves.

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    Mmm, £200M for 75 years? That’s not much per year for the amount of land involved.

    How do we mere mortals get in on this gravy train?

    Kit
    Member

    1) As TJ says, access cannot be denied under the Land Reform Act. What may happen is that trails get trashed by logging and aren’t repaired, but that is not the same as forbidding access.

    2) If new trails are constructed, there cannot be a charge for their use, as this also contravenes the LRA (which the naughty boys at Golspie are doing). Drumlanrig (for example) is exempt from this as it was charging for trail/estate use prior the LRA coming into force.

    You/the petition is also assuming that because the forests will be let out to a commercial company that there will be a wholesale logging and restriction on access to these areas. How these companies work with local communities and the communities of outdoor users who enjoy these spaces is up to each individual lease holder and you can’t assume that they’re all going to be evil money grabbing bastards. As mentioned already, FCS is hardly a bastion of good management/practice/PR so perhaps some competition will up their game.

    I think people need to be a little more open minded about this, unless you can give me firm evidence that these proposals will doom jobs and recreation as a result.

    coffeeking
    Member

    You/the petition is also assuming that because the forests will be let out to a commercial company that there will be a wholesale logging and restriction on access to these areas.

    I can see few other reasons for a commercial venture buying up vast swathes of woodland, unless they’re doing it out of the goodness of their heart, or using it as some sort of carbon-credit wangle?

    Kit
    Member

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Forestry Commission a commercial company? If they are, they prove that commercial and recreational interests can work together.

    The thing is that a forestry company does not wholesale deforest its entire stock, therefore there is always large areas of its property that are simply sitting waiting on being harvested. Why not put in facilities in a small area and work with local communities. Many commercial businesses (or or individual business people) put plenty back into the local economy and communities. As I said, a little open-mindedness about the opportunities this might actually provide would be welcome (e.g. the commercial backing of a large international logging company could provide the necessary capital, labour and resources to install the much-mooted and sought-after chairlift at Innerleithen).

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    Kit, fair points, although apart from Carron Valley which has many issues that few know the ins and outs of (least of all me!) I’d say on the FCS have been pretty encouraging to mountain biking to say the least. You just have to look at the situation in Northern Ireland to see what they could have been like.

    Whilst its fair to say they might not all be ‘money grabbing bastards’ I doubt they will be as happy to accommodate mountain biking at the expense of forest operations when their sole purpose is to make money.

    Main reason I’m against it is that it sounds pretty daft to lease out the best forests (that account for about 40% of FCS income) for 75 years for a pretty small amount of money – for others to make more money on it. Surely these are the forests you’d want to keep! Also there is no guarantees to what the money raised from this will be spent on.

    Oh and Golspie ask for a donation to the trails, they don’t and can’t ask you to pay for access.

    Premier Icon Stu
    Subscriber

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Forestry Commission a commercial company?

    Nope, they are a directorate of the Scottish Government. More details on FCS website here.

    This states: Our mission is to protect and expand Scotland’s forests and woodlands and increase their value to society and the environment.

    Which doesn’t sound like the mission statement a commercial logging company would have to me!

    Perhaps the OP can tell us which of Scotlands forests was sold by FCS itself to help pay for the new £5m visitor centre at Glentress?

    FCS is constantly acquiring and disposing of land in the same way any large commercial operator would and this is not necessarily always for the best – at the same time FCS was presiding over the Carron Valley and Lennox forests “problems” it was quietly acquiring half the Campsies.

    FCS partner problems are far from isolated but discussions on here focus on the relatively small microcosm of the FCS world that is the 7S success story – the public dont get to see the situation in the round…

    druidh
    Member

    I’m currently neutral on it as I can see lots of positives. While Stu points out a potential impact to MTBing through increased forestry operations, others reckon it’ll hit jobs. I don’t see that it can be both. I’d rather see Scottish land put a use other than simply recreation and leisure, otherwise we’ll just end up as one large theme park.

    simon side
    Member

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Forestry Commission a commercial company?
    Nope, that`ll be Forest Enterprise,the money making bit of Forestry Commission

    Premier Icon epicyclo
    Subscriber

    Scotland has suffered enough under the yoke of non-resident landowners.

    At least the Forestry Commission is local.

    This is true however, it doesn’t follow that reviewing a 90 year organisational monopoly is a bad thing per se. Many would go further and say its long overdue 🙂

    AJ
    Member

    dunnae forget that the forests are public owned

    5thElefant
    Member

    Which doesn’t sound like the mission statement a commercial logging company would have to me!

    I assume the same stuff exists north of the border… in england planning restrictions, grants and tax breaks exist so that commercial logging companies have to leave woodland as woodland and its in their interest to replant when they harvest.

    I’m all for selling off some assets. Saves me paying for the trillion £ (and growing) debt our glorious leader is running up.

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