T H E F OR E ST RY C OMM I S S I ON ’ S
S O C I A L MODE L
For almost half a century the Forestry Commission maintained an
inspired social policy,which has had a large impact on upland Britain.
Integral to the Acland Report of 1916, which led to the setting up
of the Forestry Commission immediately after the war, was a wider
social concern. Large areas of upland Britain, it identified, were
‘wasteland’ and ‘depopulated’. Trees would not only increase their
productiveness but ‘demanded a higher rural population’ than
The report envisaged that:
‘small holdings will be grouped together on the best land within
or near the forests so as to economise labour in the working of
the holdings,... and to provide an ample supply of... labour for
forestry work. Families settled on new holdings in forest areas
will be a net addition to the resident rural population’.
This remained the philosophy of the Commission for nearly 50 years.
Lord Lovat the‘Father’ of the Forestry Commission, had extensive
landholdings in Scotland, and it was in the Highlands that he and
other Scottish landowners such as Sir John Stirling-Maxwell conceived
the scheme of land settlement allied to forestry. As first chairman
of the Commission, Lovat was able to implement his ‘long cherished
dream’ of repopulating the hill country, thanks to his good contacts
Today around 18% of Scotland is afforested, a
dramatic increase from the 5% of a century ago.
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