1989-1999
DEVOLUTION FOR SCOTLAND

After a decade of expansion, a new Scottish Parliament brought big changes to Scotland’s forests

The devolution of powers from Westminster to Scotland would have far-reaching consequences for the forest industries, with big changes in how the Forestry Commission reported on its research and activities to the newly-elected Members of the Scottish Parliament. This would eventually lead, in 2003, to the separation of the Commission into separate bodies for England, Scotland and Wales.

Throughout this decade of change, the foresters, rangers and planners in Scotland’s forests continued to innovate and expand, bringing to bear new techniques in commercial forestry, and increasing the land available for use as recreational space for the general public.

Interpretation and signage improved, with dozens of new waymarked trails, visitor centres, brochures and publications. Fitness activities like cycling and mountain biking increased in popularity, with an ever-growing appetite for new trails and facilities. As the new millennium approached, more people than ever were enjoying Scotland’s forests and wild places.

 

THE 1990S: RECREATION IN THE FORESTS

Celebrity wildlife expert David Bellamy attends the public opening of new trails at Culbin Forest, 1999

Celebrity wildlife expert David Bellamy attends the public opening of new trails at Culbin Forest, 1999

Throughout the busy and bustling 1990s, the focus on opening Scotland’s forests for recreation continued to expand and grow.

There were specially-equipped centres to visit at places like Glenmore, and The Lodge at Aberfoyle. There were new trails to walk and ride, with the first of what would become the 7stanes network of Mountain Biking centres opening at — in —.

One of the most popular activities in the forest was wildlife-watching, and the FC facilities like wildlife hides became increasingly important, with new signs and interpretation constantly being developed to tell the story of the forest and its inhabitants.

In the decades to follow, new technologies would bring new ways to explore nature - visit the Videos page to view some incredible 360° videos of wildlife in their natural habitats.

1999: SCOTLAND’S PARLIAMENT opens

The Queen attends the opening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, 1999. Image:    Wikimedia

The Queen attends the opening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, 1999. Image: Wikimedia

With the opening of Scotland’s devolved parliament in 1999, the process of transferring a whole host of powers to the Scottish people began in earnest.

Forestry was just one sector which would be transformed by devolution, with the creation of a separate agency - Forestry Commission Scotland, officially established in 2003 - to oversee the sector, and lead on policy and best practice.

Regardless of name, the agencies operating under the government’s purview since devolution have continued to innovate, expand, and break new boundaries in research, policy and practice. The latest government strategy document on forestry covers the next ten years, with ambitious targets on growth, sustainability, and public accountability.

The culmination of 20 years of learning and planning, it is the document which will lead Scotland’s forest industries forward for the next decade, and for decades to come.