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Live Reporting

Louise Wilson and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. £80m for marginal farms by March 2020 confirmed

    Fergus Ewing

    That's all from BBC Scotland's Holyrood Live on Thursday 31 October 2019.

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing confirms the first £80m from convergence funding for farmers and crofters will be paid out by March 2020.

    And the remaining £80m will be allocated before the end of March 2021.

    Farmers and crofters will not have to apply for the money, but retired farmers will not be eligible for retrospective payment.

    The announcement was broadly welcomed but calls for clarity on funding post-Brexit were made.

    Happy guising!

  2. Background: Forestry devolution plans stripped back by MSPs

    Forest track

    MSPs passed legislation last year devolving Scottish forestry - but stripped back the plans set out by ministers.

    The Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Bill will bring forestry under Holyrood's jurisdiction.

    However, opposition MSPs successfully changed the bill to mean it will be overseen by two "arms-length" agencies rather than a government department.

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the passage of the bill was still "an historic occasion" in devolution.

    Read more.

  3. Background: The battle to save Scotland's forests from disease

    Scottish Forestry's John Dougan

    "When I first saw the impact this disease was having, it really almost reduced me to tears."

    The words of Scottish Forestry's John Dougan as he describes the battle to defeat the deadly tree disease Phytophthora Ramorum.

    It has spread throughout Scotland in recent years, leaving thousands of dead and damaged trees in its wake.

    If the ongoing fight is lost, it is feared it could be catastrophic for the forestry industry and also hit tourism.

    Read more.

  4. The target of planting 10,000 hectares per annum is welcome

    Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles
    Image caption: Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles

    Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles begins: "This is indeed a splendid opportunity to celebrate the centenary of the 1919 Forestry Act."

    Mr Rumbles tells the chamber his party wholeheartedly supports the government's motion.

    He argues woodland coverage is well below the European average and has been in steady decline for some considerable time.

    The target of planting 10,000 hectares per annum is welcome adds Mr Rumbles, but he hopes the Scottish government will meet it.

  5. Green New Deal would support reforestation says Green MSP

    Green MSP John Finnie

    Green MSP John Finnie says when the Forestry Act 1919 was passed 5% of the UK was covered by forests.

    100 years later, 18% of Scotland is now covered he says, though he adds the Greens would like to see 40% coverage as it the case across Europe.

    He says a Green New Deal would provide support for reforestation, including funding skilled workers.

    The Green MSP calls for greater diversity of ownership and more use of local timber rather than imports.

  6. Background: Laser drones protect Scottish forests

    Kenneth Macdonald

    BBC Scotland Science Correspondent

    Drone over a forest

    Laser-carrying drones that can see through the forest canopy are being used to protect native Scottish plants threatened by invasive species.

    The drones use Lidar (light detection and ranging), which works like radar but uses light instead of radio waves.

    Laser pulses are fired at the trees below and the time it takes for wavelengths to bounce back is used to create a 3D picture of what lies beneath.

    The data is combined with information from satellites to give an accurate "fix" of the drone's position.

    Read more.

  7. Background: Scotland meets tree planting target for first time

    Kevin Keane

    BBC Scotland environment correspondent

    New trees

    The Scottish government has met its annual tree planting targets for the first time.

    About 11,200 hectares of new planting was undertaken last year, a significant increase on 2017.

    Aforestation is seen as an important tool in tackling climate change but planting rates up until now have been low.

    Ministers plan to increase the target further in 2024, from 10,000 to 15,000 hectares.

    Read more.

  8. Tory MSP welcomes planting target being hit

    Tory MSP Peter Chapman
    Image caption: Tory MSP Peter Chapman

    Tory MSP Peter Chapman praises the work of the Forestry Commission over the years.

    Mr Chapman says today forestry and woodlands covers 19% of our land but while this is a significant improvement, it still falls well short of the EU target.

    He welcomes the achievement of the planting target this year and the increased planting targets going forward.

    The Tory MSP concludes saying Scotland is better for the Forestry Act 1919 and calls for more trees to be planted in the next 100 years.

  9. Planting must expand in right places with right species

    Mr Smyth says national parks have been an important contributor to Scotland's aims, and he speaks about the possibility of creating new national parks including in Dumfries and Galloway.

    He welcomes the fact the native woodlands receive better protections now but he warns more needs to be done.

    We must expand planting in the right places and with the right species, he insists.

    The Labour MSP says the social, environmental and economic benefits must be balanced.

  10. Labour MSP calls for improved safety in the industry

    Labour MSP Colin Smyth
    Image caption: Labour MSP Colin Smyth

    Colin Smyth opens for the Scottish Labour in this debate marking the centenary of the 1919 Forestry Act.

    Mr Smyth points out there are 3,000 jobs in the timber industry and he calls for improved safety in the industry.

    He welcomes the improved recognition of the social benefits our forests can have.

  11. Forests make unique climate contribution says Ewing

    Mr Ewing highlights that April this year saw the establishment of Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland.

    Scotland's forests are highly versatile he says and they make a unique contribution in tackling climate change.

    He says tree planting targets were "smashed" and now there is a new aim to plant 12,000 hectares.

  12. Minister pays tribute to lumberjills

    Image caption: The lumberjills were given a month's training before being set to work

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing pays tribute to the "lumberjills" who did vital work during the Second World War while the men were away fighting.

    More than 70 years on, the Forestry Commission compiled a book to ensure their role is not forgotten.

    Mr Ewing announces that, in partnership with Glasgow City Council, new tree planting in Pollock Park in Glasgow will get underway.

    This planting will be expanded following consultation to create a living memorial to the 1919 Forestry Act.

    Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing
    Image caption: Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing
  13. Here's the government motion.....

  14. Forestry centenary debate

    Rhododendron bushes

    The Scottish government is leading a debate to mark 100 years of the Forestry Commission.

    The Commission was set up in September 1919.

    Last year, the Forestry and Land Management Bill saw powers over forestry devolved to Holyrood - and as such Scottish Forestry was created in April this year.

  15. Call for withdrawal of SNP support for Heathrow third runway

    Willie Rennie

    Willie Rennie says there are some useful measures in this statement but he calls for the cabinet secretary to raise the issue of the third runway at Heathrow.

    The Scottish Lib Dem leader tells the chamber he assumes the Scottish government's support for a third runway will be withdrawn in light of the declaration of a climate change emergency.

    Ms Cunningham says that does not fall within her remit but the relevant cabinet secretary will be advised of Mr Rennie's view.

    Architects' visualisation of Heathrow's plan shows the M25 running under the new runway
    Image caption: Architects' visualisation of Heathrow's plan shows the M25 running under the new runway
  16. Green MSP asks about renewable heating

    Green MSP Mark Ruskell

    Green MSP Mark Ruskell asks if Scotland will learn from Sweden's action on heating from renewable sources, highlighting the country will meet its targets on this next year.

    Ms Cunningham says she is happy to talk to her Swedish counterparts, before suggesting other countries can learn from Scotland.

    Specifically, she highlights the Scotland includes emissions from aviation and shipping in statistics while other countries, including Sweden, do not.

  17. Background: Climate change: MSPs approve beefed up emissions target


    The Scottish government's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions have been strengthened, as MSPs voted to put down a "net-zero" target in law.

    The Climate Change Bill - which aims to have all emissions offset by 2045 - was passed by 113 votes to 0 at Holyrood.

    Ministers agreed to a Labour amendment to up the interim target, with members agreeing to target a 75% reduction by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

    However, a Green bid to increase this goal to 80% was heavily defeated.

    Read more.