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Scottish Woodlot Association

Growing sustainable small-scale forestry

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About Us

The Scottish Woodlot Association was founded in 2012 by a group of forestry professionals to bring the Woodlot Licence system from British Columbia to Scotland, giving people a stake in their local forests.

Over the last 6 years we have established several Pilot sites and now have Woodlot Licences on long-term 5 year agreements. People in Scotland now have the opportunity to achieve forest tenure through a Woodlot Licence.

Woodlot Licences enable individuals and families to achieve forest tenure; to gain more experience in forestry and to share this experience with others in a co-operative way. Woodlot Licence holders come from all sectors of society all placed on an equal footing within the Association.

What is a Woodlot?

Woodlots are relatively small areas of woodland (usually 10-20ha, but some are much smaller/bigger), licenced to and managed by individuals and groups to produce timber and other benefits as a small-scale forestry enterprise. The Woodlot is not owned by the Woodlot holder but Licenced to him/her from the landowner, with rights to fell timber produce under the Allowable Annual Cut, and responsibilities to replant and to manage the woodland sustainably. This is known as a Woodlot Licence.

The term ‘Woodlot’ comes from North America and refers to a small area of generally non-commercial woodland, usually owned and managed by a local family for modest firewood and timber production. There is no comparative term in Scotland that implies this scale and tenure model.

Woodlot Licences were established in British Columbia in the post-war era in the Crown forests. They were established alongside industrial-scale Licence and were purposely to give rural people a stake in their local forests through achieving Tenure. The Woodlot Licence programme grew slowly but surely, then increased massively in the 1970’s. There are now over 800 Woodlot Licences in BC, and they have made real progress in supporting local rural economies by placing land in the hands of local families.

How does it work?

Landowners approach the Association and one of our existing Woodlot Licence holders discusses their woodland and with them and explores Woodlot potential. Local members of the Association create management plans that meet landowner requirements for particular Woodlots. They then take on a Woodlot Licence and pay a fixed ‘rent’ or Licence fee based on the productivity of the Woodlot, expressed as an Allowable Annual Cut, worked using small scale equipment and continuous cover forestry principles. The Allowable Annual Cut is usually fairly modest and generally ranges up to a couple of hundred cubic metres a year. The Woodlot Licence holder is responsible for replanting and maintaining the areas cut. Also other things can be built into the agreement such as scrub cutting, rhoddy clearance and so on.

This brings real advantages to the landowner as they get unmanaged forest land back into management and tidied up, and a modest regular rental. Many of our Woodlot Licences have been established on woodland that have not been managed for twenty years or more. Now, as Woodlot Licences, they are worked regularly every year, and the woodland is supporting small-scale family forestry, which is often rare in Scotland.


Localism is fundamental to the concept, with the Woodlot supporting local employment, helping to develop the local forestry skills-base and to benefit the local economy.

The Scottish Woodlot Association Limited is a non-profit distributing Industrial & Provident Society – a Co-operative.

Please help us to continue to create Woodlot Licences and to support Family Forestry in Scotland by joining the Association or donating. Thank you.

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