Confor presents an industry response to RSE report

19 April 2024

On 29 February, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) published a report on the environmental and social impacts of public subsidies for the forestry sector in Scotland. The high-profile conclusion of the report was that “commercial conifer” planting no longer needs public subsidy.

Titled 'Inquiry into public financial support for tree planting and forestry', the report also concluded that the industry wasn’t producing high-value wood products and that fast-growing conifers were not the best means to lock up carbon.

Confor immediately put out a response rejecting the conclusions of the report. However, given the academic profile of the RSE, we were keen to study independent, academic responses to the report before saying anything more. Here we present analyses from experienced and knowledgeable University academics at Aberdeen, Bangor and Edinburgh Napier.

Their critiques raise a number of serious concerns, including significant weaknesses in the methodology underpinning the RSE report and an apparent selective use of information to present quite opposite conclusions to those presented in the quoted evidence.

The report’s analysis of the timber sector is particularly weak, with poorly evidenced conclusions and recommendations that do not stand up to scrutiny.