The new Ayrshire and Arran Forestry and Woodland Strategy, which could see 3 million more trees planted in Ayrshire and Arran, was launched on Wednesday 8 October 2014 at Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire.

The innovative strategy has been developed by the Ayrshire Green Network Partnership (AGNP), a joint initiative between Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS), Scottish Natural Heritage, South Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Council and North Ayrshire Council, set up to deliver the shared goals and vision of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) with a regional focus to deliver local priorities in the Ayrshire area.

The strategy is intended to guide woodland management and expansion in Ayrshire and Arran, providing a policy and spatial framework to maximise the contribution of woodland and forestry to the people, environment and economy of the region.

Welcoming the new strategy, Environment & Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

"Ayrshire’s woodlands are important to the area as they support jobs, tourism, healthier lifestyles and make a considerable contribution to local economies.

"The woodlands are part and parcel of the landscape and, with careful growth and management of this precious resource, we can fully maximise the benefits for communities, the economy and for the environment.

"The strategy will be the blueprint for planning the area's woodlands well into the future and will help deliver many of the objectives of the Central Scotland Green Network."

John Esslemont, Chair of the Ayrshire Green Network Partnership, said:

“Our first strategy was very successful in increasing woodland cover throughout Ayrshire and Arran and we’ve set ambitious targets in our new strategy to ensure we continue to build on this.   

”The strategy is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits to people throughout Ayrshire and Arran, and I’m confident our ambitious plans will be achieved.”

Comprising around 23% of the land cover of Ayrshire and Arran, trees, forests and woodlands, provide a key resource for biodiversity and deliver a wide range of environmental benefits that help to support the region’s communities.  Despite the undoubted importance of the woodland resource and allied industries within this area, there is still significant potential for their contribution to improved and expanded.

The strategy will:

  • Provide supplementary planning guidance for the three Ayrshire Local Development Plans
  • Inform local authority development management decisions on proposals that include woodland removal or creation
  • Guide local authority responses to consultation on planting proposals and applications for grant support for woodland creation and management
  • Assist with the development and approval of Forest District Strategic Plans and long term Forest Design and Management Plans

The Strategy has been developed based on the advice provided in ‘The Right Tree in the Right Place: Planning for forestry and woodlands’ issued by the Scottish Government in 2010.

The first Ayrshire and Arran Woodland Strategy developed in 2003 along with available targeted grant aid, was successful in securing a significant increase in woodland cover, relating to some 1500ha over the lifetime of the strategy.

You can download the full strategy here.