Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

A report is recommending that the government stop providing financial support for the conifer forests in Scotland.
Climate Environment World News

A report is recommending that the government stop providing financial support for the conifer forests in Scotland.

According to a recent report, government officials should eliminate the substantial subsidies and tax advantages granted to conifer forests because they are not effective in addressing the issues surrounding the climate emergency.

According to the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s report, instead of providing timber industry with millions of pounds in subsidies, the money should be invested in preserving longer-lasting native forests that have more significant and evident positive impact on both climate and biodiversity.

The Scottish and UK governments’ belief that public subsidies are necessary to assist in the growth of larger conifer forests is incorrect. These forests primarily consist of a single species and have a limited lifespan, making them monocultures.


Instead of using public subsidies for other purposes, the money should be allocated towards planting native broadleaf trees, even in cities. These trees are effective at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide.2, support more plant and animal species, store more carbon in the soil, and have a far longer lifespan.

According to the RSE report, it was discovered that:

  • Scotland’s ministers have provided support for forestry amounting to over £390 million in the past ten years. Around 80% of this funding went towards creating commercial plantations of conifer trees, and there were also additional subsidies for transportation.

  • Wood businesses and property owners do not have to pay any corporate taxes on their earnings from forests. Any profits made from selling timber are exempt from taxes, as well as any increase in the value of the trees. Additionally, 100% tax relief is granted for inheritance of forestry land.

  • The owners of forests were given the opportunity to trade carbon credits, further enhancing the appeal of investing in forestry.

  • These financial incentives, tax exemptions, and carbon credits have greatly contributed to the significant increase in land values in Scotland, rising by 73% in just one year. This has significantly distorted the land market and made it unaffordable for many.

  • The policies mandating environmental impact assessments for new forest projects are not being adequately enforced by government agencies. Their approach has been described as “inadequate” and “passive.”

The RSE, the official academy of Scotland, stated that the government must make crucial adjustments to their strategies as they are currently reducing public funding, including for environmental restoration.

According to Prof Pat Monaghan, a zoology regius professor at the University of Glasgow and one of the authors of the report, our limited public funds should be utilized to optimize advantages for both society and the environment.

She stated that currently, we are confronted with both climate change and biodiversity loss. It is crucial to make sure that our tree planting initiatives are implemented in a manner that minimizes carbon emissions while also protecting our valuable and vulnerable biodiversity.

The RSE expressed shock that the Treasury lacked information on the amount of lost tax revenue resulting from these tax exemptions, despite receiving ongoing criticism over the past few decades.

The tax incentives for forestry were equivalent to those for farming, but the reasoning behind supporting forestry was focused on the belief that having a local timber supply was crucial in times of war. This policy was abolished in the 1950s.

The Department responsible for managing policy and financial resources in England, known as the Department for Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs, has allocated £222 million for private land woodlands from 2020 to 2024. However, while 77% of woodlands in England consist of native broadleaf species, only 29% in Scotland possess the same characteristics.

Professor Ian Wall, the chair of the inquiry by the RSE, stated: “It cannot be emphasized enough the impact that the appropriate placement of trees has on enhancing biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and the overall well-being of both urban and rural areas.”

Scottish Forestry, a government agency, and Confor, a timber industry organization, have confirmed that there is substantial proof that conifers can store up to four times more carbon and at a quicker rate compared to slower-growing hardwood trees. In the region, the timber industry employs 20,000 individuals and contributes £800 million to the economy.

Scottish Forestry stated that they will analyze the report and also mentioned that public grants for forestry are crucial in promoting the growth of woodlands. They will continue to provide funding for both conifers and broadleaf planting.

Confor said modern regulations already required conifer forests to be multipurpose, with a greater mix of species and more emphasis on eco-tourism. The World Bank had forecast the move to use timber instead of carbon-intensive concrete and steel in construction would require four times as much timber by 2050.

Confor explained that government grants offer financial support for creating a new forest and making up for the lost earnings from the previous use of the land. No further grants are given once the forest is established.

“We do not agree with the RSE’s claims that the planting of trees is being solely driven by public policy, rather than considering the appropriateness of planting a particular tree in a specific location. This belief is not supported by an examination of the types of trees being planted or the underlying public policies guiding tree planting.”

A representative from the Treasury recently stated that forestry receives tax benefits and exemptions, but also mentioned the importance of maintaining a straightforward tax system by avoiding the implementation of various tax treatments for the different types of trees in the UK.

Source: theguardian.com