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Fife could see an extra 200,000 trees (100 hectares) planted in the kingdom each year as a result of a new woodland strategy published today.

The Fife Forestry & Woodland Strategy sets out a five year vision to maximise the wide range of benefits from woodlands and forests.

It will assist with the delivery of Fife Council's Local Development Plan due in 2014, helping to improve cycle networks, create green networks, promote new planting and enhance woodland recreation.

Importantly, the strategy will also help to increase health and outdoor education opportunities close to urban centres and actions to address the effects of climate change.

Welcoming the strategy’s publication, Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment & Climate Change said:

“Fife’s forests and woodlands are great natural assets which provide a large range of benefits.

“Around 2,600 jobs are already supported by Fife’s forests and the industry contributes £394 million to the local economy each year.

“Woodlands are also part of the area’s character and have a positive effect on the quality of life for people living and working in the area.

“It is therefore important that we manage this precious resource properly so that we can fully maximise the benefits. This new strategy, which would see a further one million trees planted over a five year period, is the guiding vision to achieve this.”

Fife currently has around 11 per cent woodland cover compared to the national average of 18 per cent. The new strategy points out further opportunities to increase the growth of woodlands to create native and mixed woodlands, which can also produce timber and woodfuel.

Keith Wishart, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Conservator for Central Scotland added:

“Forestry already makes a significant contribution to Fife’s economy and has a crucial role in the future delivery of the Central Scotland Green Network.

“This Fife Forestry and Woodland Strategy guides and informs decisions on new planting, investment programmes and grant support now and over the coming years. A key priority is to facilitate the expansion of woodland in a manner which complements farming activities and encourages diversification”

“Delivery of woodland creation and expansion within this framework is central to the development of a sustainable future and encouraging a shift towards a low carbon economy.”

Lothians & Fife Green Network Partnership Manager Paul Sizeland said:

“We are really pleased to see an approach that identifies the distinctive land use attributes in Fife.

“The strategy marks a really important stage in the delivery of locally specific actions to support the development of Fife’s woodland economy and strongly supports the aims of the Central Scotland Green Network concordat that Fife Council signed up to in November.”

The strategy has been produced by Lothians & Fife Green Network Partnership, Fife Council, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust. Local community groups, the forest industry and landowners have also contributed.

To view the Fife Forestry & Woodland Strategy 2013-18 log on to http://www.lfgnp.org.uk/news