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50 year outlook for Scotland's timber industries: positive

The 50 year outlook for Scotland’s timber industries is looking positive, according to a report published by the Forestry Commission this week, but close collaboration with the forest industries will be important to ensure that a consistent timber supply is delivered.

The report provides a forecast of potential availability of softwood timber from British forests over the next 50 years, highlighting a significant increase in availability to the mid 2030s but a subsequent drop off to 2050.

Forestry Commission Scotland has said that the aim will be to manage the existing resource to minimise peaks and drops in availability to ensure a steady supply of timber coming to market throughout this period, mirroring current record high levels of production.

Paul Wheelhouse, Environment & Climate Change Minister, said:

“This is the first time in 15 years that timber availability forecasts have looked further ahead than a 25 year time horizon – and these robust 50-year forecasts will help the sector to plan for the future.

“These are ‘potential availability’ reports - not ‘production forecasts’ – but I am confident that with industry-wide cooperation and innovation, the sector in Scotland will be able to optimise the available resource and ensure that over the next 50 years, current, record production levels are sustained.”

The forecasts, which model a number of scenarios, are important aids to the development of forestry policy and to forest, woodland and infrastructure planning and management by the forestry and timber industries, government and local authorities as well as biodiversity, wildlife and environmental interests.

Ongoing restocking and new-planting of productive forests will be important in supporting softwood availability from the 2040s onward and meeting Scotland’s carbon emissions targets.

A 50 year hardwood forecast has also been published which suggests the potential to increase the Scottish hardwood harvest from current low levels.

The reports, the ‘50-Year Forecast of Softwood Availability’ and the ‘50-Year Forecast of Hardwood Availability’ for Great Britain are two in a series of outputs for the National Forest Inventory. They are available to download from the NFI pages of the Forestry Commission website at


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