Strong year for business in vibrant forestry sector

Photo - winner in the 2023 Scottish Woodlands Ltd photography prize - taken by Tom Amos, Forest Manager, at Riverside Woodland, Broadford, Isle of Skye

SCOTTISH Woodlands Ltd, the UK’s leading forestry business, has enjoyed another successful and profitable year, with an increasing headcount and continued focus on
graduate recruitment.

The company, which is 80%-owned by its employees, reported turnover of £111.6 million in the year to 30 September 2023, with operating profits remaining strong at £4.61 million.

Scottish Woodlands Ltd, headquartered in Riccarton, Edinburgh, is involved in the creation of around one-third of all new woodland in Scotland. Its staff numbers have increased to more than 250, and it will take on six more new recruits into its Graduate Development Programme in 2024, as it continues to tackle skills challenges by ‘growing its own’.

The company has offices across Scotland (as well as northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and specialises in tree planting, forest management, harvesting, landscaping, utility services, investment and peatland restoration.

Managing Director Ian Robinson said: “The timber market, especially the demand for sawn logs, remained challenging – but all other areas of the business were strong.

“Scottish Woodlands Ltd continues to be healthy, vibrant and adaptable to changing market conditions. The growing recognition of the significant environmental benefits of forestry has led to the creation of our five-strong carbon team over the last three years, with an increasing focus on peatland restoration.”

He added: “The company expects to plant more than 3,000 hectares of new woodlands in Scotland in 2024 and we see a positive overall outlook with opportunities for continued business growth across the UK. Scottish Woodlands Ltd continues to invest in new staff and training programmes, as well as industry-leading equipment and technology.

“Our focus remains very clear: providing excellent service to our clients and great opportunities for our people to thrive in this vibrant industry.”

Since the end of its financial year last September, Scottish Woodlands Ltd has bolstered its management structure to reflect the growth of the business with the appointment of 5 regional managers. It has also grown its carbon team, led by Carbon Manager Emma Kerr and now including Erin Stoll as Peatland Project Manager – the first appointment of its type by a mainstream forestry business.

The report accompanying the results to 30 September 2023 says: “Our carbon assessment service has been strongly utilised as many businesses review their ESG [environmental, social and governance] requirements. Forestry and wood products can make a major contribution to the country in achieving net zero through tree planting, increased use of wood products and in energy production.”

The new recruits to Scottish Woodlands’ Graduate Development Programme this year will take the total number to 58 since the programme was launched in 2017. Mr Robinson said this focus on people – clients, customers, and suppliers, as well as staff – was at the root of Scottish Woodlands’ success.

“Our graduate programme is a vital part of our business, and bolstering our management team has also been a significant move which reflects the growth in the size and the breadth of the business,” he added.

Scottish Woodlands has 19 different offices, mainly spread across Scotland, but also in northern England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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