Scottish environment minister Michael Russell has outlined his vision for Scotland’s forests in 2008, including tackling climate change, investing in processing and enhancing the physical environment.

Mr Russell highlighted three key areas from the Scottish Forestry Strategy and said a forestry action plan would be discussed in 2008 to create a “more ambitious approach to tackling climate change” and that the burgeoning wood fuels market would drive investment to harness the “potential of wood for energy”.

This would be coupled with drives to further the forest’s role in “healthier, smarter and fairer priorities”, including urban regeneration, rural development and the overall planning system.

“Woodland creation is a key part of each of these three priorities and I am keen to see a significant lift in the area planted towards the 10,000ha per year we will need to achieve our aspiration of 25% woodland cover by the second half of the century,” said Mr Russell.

The Scottish Rural Development Plan will help to “unlock the sector’s full potential” he added, with the government offering an “historically high level of support”.