Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Economic growth found in forests

Scottish forest
Mr Russell says Scotland needs to unlock the potential of its forests

Plans to use Scotland's forests to fuel economic growth and increase renewable energy capacity have been unveiled by Environment Minister Mike Russell.

A consultation paper wants communities, landowners and the forestry sector to "unlock" the potential of woodlands.

Its launch took place on the Annandale Estate in Dumfries and Galloway.

Mr Russell said the nation's forests - worth about 850m - could make a vital contribution towards a "greener and wealthier Scotland".

The consultation paper - Climate Change and the National Forest Estate - outlines a number of proposals.

We are looking for creative ideas and solutions to take this forward, so it's important that we hear as many views as possible
Mike Russell
Environment minister

They include plans to develop renewable energy projects and plant more trees to increase the area covered by woodland.

Mr Russell said Scotland's forests could help the country meet its target of 50% of energy being produced by renewable sources by 2020.

"Scotland's forests are one of our greatest natural assets and also hold huge potential for greener energy," he said.

"This consultation holds the key to unlocking that potential.

"It also holds the key to more investment in industry and more jobs."

He said that in the current economic climate industries which were the "lifeblood of the rural economy and rural communities" needed support.

"We are looking for creative ideas and solutions to take this forward, so it's important that we hear as many views as possible," he said.

"This is the first step in developing a new approach to forestry in Scotland."

Consultation on the paper will be open until 27 January next year.

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