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The future of forestry comes under the spotlight

Date: 20 August 1999
Our ref: 458

Contemporary challenges facing forestry and rural development in developed countries will come under the spotlight at a major international conference in Aberdeen next week (August 23-27).

International experts from 18 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the US and many European countries will discuss all aspects of forestry-related rural development when they meet at the University of Aberdeen on Monday for the five-day symposium.

The Minister for Forestry in Scotland, John Home Robertson MSP will address the delegates after the conference dinner at the Glen Tanar Ballroom on Thursday, August 26. He will talk about forestry policy in Scotland and government efforts to achieve sustainable forestry practice.

He will also announce the results of two challenge funds, which will help woodland owners expand and improve the native woodlands of Speyside and Deeside in the Cairngorms region.

The conference is being organised by Dr Bill Slee of the University’s Department of Agriculture, and the European Forest Institute based in Joensuu, Finland, on behalf of the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO).

Dr Slee said they are keen to cover the full range of opinion within the UK and other developed countries about the styles of forestry needed to meet the many and diverse demands placed on forests and to explore the implications of these competing visions on rural development.

Topics to be tackled include:

- Forestry and sustainable rural development
- successful innovation and adaptation in the forest supply chain
- the scope for adding value to timber products
- economic assessments of forest-related developments in developed countries
- the scope for enhanced development via non-timber forest products
- the use of forests for tourism and amenity
- institutional innovation in the forest sector including partnership activities
- farm-level forestry opportunities
- community involvement in forest management and development

Dr Slee said the conference would be the first held by IUFRO, on this subject, in Europe during the past five years.

“Things are moving fast in Scotland. We have the new Scottish government with executives interested in forestry and there are all sorts of pressures and changes in the industry. This conference aims to pull together a vast amount of expertise and experience from all over the world with experts who are prepared to stand up and meet the challenges.

“Historically groups such as Reforesting Scotland and the Forestry Commission have not always seen eye-to-eye, yet here they all are at the same conference discussing the problems and looking at ways of resolving them.”
There has been a range of initiatives in forestry and rural development in Scotland, and the work of groups such as Forestry and People in Rural Areas, Reforesting Scotland and Highland Birchwoods, and new forest policies, such as Challenge-Funded Forestry, has created new opportunities and raised the level of debate.


Further information

Dr Bill Slee (01224) 274140, or Irene Wilson (01224) 274126, or from the conference website:

Alison Ramsay on telephone +44 (0)1224-273778 or email