Why we need to invest in expanding the commercial forest area?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current levels of commercial forest expansion internationally are totally inadequate to meet projected future global demand for industrial roundwood that is set to quadruple by 2050. This will result in a greater proportion of production coming from the world’s remaining natural and semi natural forests, many of which are already under significant pressure from unsustainable exploitation. Even where increases in production are possible from natural and semi natural forests, this is unlikely to meet future demand leading to potential global timber shortages and increases in international timber prices. The economic impact of this will affect Scotland even although the size of the commercial forest area on a per capita basis is higher here than elsewhere in the UK. Scotland has a very suitable climate for growing trees and expanding the commercial forest area would not only allow more of its own timber requirements to be met, but would enable it to become a significant exporter of timber and timber products, particularly to the rest of the UK. Domestic production forecasts, however, indicate a significant decline in timber supply from Scotland’s forests from around the mid-2020s, and rather than expansion taking place to address future reductions in roundwood supply, the reality is that the productive area of forest in Scotland is actually shrinking. This article examines the potential impact of forecasted production streams on the domestic forestry industry and recommends expansion of the commercial forest area in Scotland using financial incentives including the potential of tax relief to encourage tree planting. Issues of land availability and the role of Forestry Commission Scotland in promoting commercial forest expansion are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalScottish Forestry
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Commercial forest
  • Expansion


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