Forestry and Land Scotland

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) (Scottish Gaelic: Coilltearachd agus Fearann Alba) is responsible for managing and promoting Scotland's national forest estate: land, predominantly covered in forest, that is owned by the Scottish Government on behalf of the nation. It was formed on 1 April 2019, to take over some of the responsibilities of Forestry Commission Scotland, which was dissolved. Forestry and Land Scotland exists alongside Scottish Forestry, also established on 1 April 2019, which is responsible for regulation, policy and support to landowners.[1] The organisation's key functions are to look after the national forest estate, including unforested land within this portfolio, and to produce and supply timber. Within this remit they are expected to enhance biodiversity, increase public access to the outdoors, encourage tourism and support the rural economy.[2]

Forestry and Land Scotland
Coilltearachd agus Fearann Alba
Agency overview
Formed1 April 2019
Preceding agency
TypeExecutive Agency of the Scottish Government
Headquarters1 Highlander Way, Inverness
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Simon Hodgson, Chief Executive
WebsiteOfficial website

The agency has been established initially to manage only the national forest estate, however it is intended that in future it may also take over management of other publicly owned land in Scotland.[3] This could include land currently managed by other public bodies such as Crown Estate Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage; crofting estates and agricultural land owned by the Scottish Government; land owned by local authorities; and land owned by the UK Ministry of Defence.[4]


As an executive agency of the Scottish Government Forestry and Land Scotland operates at arm's length from the Scottish Government, and is regulated by Scottish Forestry.[5] It forms part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate, and reports to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy.[6] FLS is headquartered in Inverness, and for organisational purposes it divides Scotland into five forest regions:[7]

National forest estate

The national forest estate consists of land owned by the Scottish Government and managed by FLS. The estate covers 6,400 km2, being roughly 8 % of the land area of Scotland. Around two-thirds of this land (4,700 km2) is forested, with the remaining land consisting of a mixture of agricultural land and open areas such as moorland.[5][8] In line with the requirement to increase public access to the outdoors and encourage tourism FLS provide facilities such as car parks, picnic areas, paths and mountain bike trails at many of their forests,[9] and as of 2008 the national forest estate received over ten million visitors each year.[10] FLS is responsible for over 1200 km of paths for walkers, 1300 km of trails for cyclists, six forest parks, five woodland parks, four national nature reserves, and the mountain biking venues of the 7stanes.[11][10]

In 2015 it was estimated that national forest estate generated £395 million of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the Scottish economy each year, of which forestry and timber products accounted for £285 million, whilst tourism and recreation contributed £110 million. It was estimated that the estate supported 11,015 full-time equivalent jobs, of which 7,225 were in forestry and timber products and 3,790 were in recreation and tourism.[12] As part of the Scottish Government's strategy for improving sustainability, benefiting communities, reducing the effects of climate change and maximising financial returns from the national forest estate FLS is actively supporting the generation of renewable energy from the estate. As of January 2019 the capacity of wind and hydro power generation installed on the national forest estate was 1086 MW.[13]

See also


  1. "Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Enterprise Scotland no longer exist". Scottish Government. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  2. "About Us". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  3. "The future of forestry in Scotland: consultation". Scottish Government. 31 August 2016. p. 11. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  4. "The future of forestry in Scotland: consultation analysis". Scottish Government. 13 February 2017. p. 13. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  5. "Report setting out the administrative arrangements that the Scottish Ministers intend to make for the carrying out of their functions under the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018". March 2019. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  6. "Forestry". Scottish Government. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  7. "Forest Regions". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  8. "Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019–2029". Scottish Government. 2 April 2019. p. 13. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  9. "Visit". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  10. "Forests for People: Access, recreation & tourism on the national forest estate" (PDF). Forestry Commission Scotland. 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  11. "7stanes - mountain biking heaven". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  12. "The economic contribution of Scotland's national forests and land". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
  13. "Renewable energy in Scotland's national forests". Forestry and Land Scotland. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
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