Question reference: S6W-14579
- Asked by: Mercedes Villalba, MSP for North East Scotland, Scottish Labour
- Date lodged: 2 February 2023
Current status: Answered by Mairi McAllan on 2 March 2023
To ask the Scottish Government, in light of the publication of the Forest Research study, Revised valuation of flood regulation services of existing forest cover to inform natural capital accounts, on the benefits of Scotland's woodlands in assisting with flood prevention measures, how it plans to incorporate the protection of woodlands, or the development of new woodland areas, into its land management plans.
It is not entirely clear as to which formal plans the questions refers, however the Bute House Agreement sets out our commitment to the introduction of a Land Reform Bill by the end of 2023. One of the proposals in the Bill is the introduction of compulsory Land Management Plans that will apply to large-scale landholdings. The public consultation on the Bill, ‘ Land Reform in a Net Zero Nation’ , was open from 4 July until the 30 October 2022, and received approximately 540 responses which are currently being analysed to inform the development of the proposals.
National Planning Framework 4, (NPF4) Policy 22 (e) - Flood Risk and Water Management, sets out a policy that Local Development Plans should seek to ‘ identify opportunities to implement improvements to the water environment through natural flood risk management and blue green infrastructure …’ by taking into account ‘relevant flood risk and river basin management plans.’ NPF4 Policy 6 also sets out that Local Development Plans will be ‘ supported and informed by an up to date Forest and Woodland Strategy’ . The Scottish Government guidance, The Right Tree in the Right Place contains advice to Local Authorities on preparing such Strategies, with direct reference to natural flood management as a suggested area for consideration. NPF4, and the Forest and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018, also set a framework for woodland protection.
In relation to forest management plans, advice on planning woodlands for flood mitigation benefits is included in the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and supporting guidance. Forest managers must follow this to receive grant aid from Scottish Forestry. New guidance was published in 2022; ‘ Designing and Managing Forests and Woodlands to Reduce Flood Risk’ . Forest and Land Scotland seek to follow the guidance as above in their own Land Management Plans for the public estate, and ensure appropriate consideration of flood mitigation.