Permissions and permits
Notice (updated 20 March 2020 - 4:30pm): Due to the situation regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we are closely following Scottish Government guidance to ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and those we work with including customers, suppliers, visitors and communities. In line with the current guidance, we have taken the decision to cancel permissions for events and group activities that were planned to take place between now and the end of June.
Scotland's national forests are almost entirely free to use. However, you may need to follow certain guidelines or obtain formal permissions for some events and activities.
Issuing a straightforward permit is likely to take a minimum of around 6 – 8 weeks (bigger or more complicated applications may take much longer) so please get in touch as soon as possible. If you are interested in running an event, you should look at the National Access Forum's Outdoor Events Guidance, which offers lots of useful help and advice.
I would like to:
- Buy a car park season ticket
- Fly my drone
- Obtain a firewood permit
- Put on a sporting event
- Go horse riding
- Drive my vehicle in the forest
- Film or photograph in the forest
- Go metal detecting within a forest
- Place a geocache
- Place a memorial
- Do something else
At some of our forests, we charge for car parking. The money you pay goes towards maintaining facilities – such as toilets, visitor centres and trail networks and looking after the forest and its wildlife. Wherever we charge, you’ll find further information on the webpage for that specific forest.
If you are a regular visitor to one of these forests, you may wish to purchase a season ticket. These can be bought by contacting your regional office.
You’re allowed to fly a drone on Scotland’s national forests and land, as long as you’re following the Civil Aviation Authority’s guidelines, including the Drone Code, and all other legal requirements, such as those relating to privacy/data protection, wildlife disturbance and the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The CAA guidelines and Drone Code include the requirement to have your drone in sight at all times, which may not be possible in some forested areas.
All pilots must follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and respect other people’s interests, care for the environment and take responsibility for your own actions.
If you want to fly drones for professional reasons, please contact the relevant regional office to apply for permission as early as possible in your planning.
Burning firewood can make a real saving on your home energy costs. Firewooding can be fun too.
Scavenging licences and firewood permits have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Visit our COVID-19 page for up to date information.
Firewood Permits (Bulk)
For significant bulk buying. Customers will use a forestry haulier to receive a delivery of generally 10 tonnes plus, in lengths of around 3m. Contact your regional office for more information and prices.
Firewood Permits (Semi-Bulk)
By appointment, customers can self-collect marked bundles of firewood – again in around 3m lengths. Bundles are generally less than 3 tonnes. Specific sites and collection times can be arranged via regional offices.
Subject to availability within your local forest regional area and following the payment of a fee, customers can have access to a site for the purpose of collecting 'on-site' harvesting residues. Note hand tools only are permitted for this operation. The duration of a permit will be for a maximum of 3 months. Contact your regional office for more information.
If you are interested in organising an event in our forests, please get in touch with the regional office in the first instance. Depending on the nature of your event, you may need to obtain official permission to hold it.
For the most popular types of events, we have developed standard event agreement and permissions procedures. If your event falls into one of these categories please follow the procedures detailed in these documents:
- Scottish Athletics events (PDF 478KB)
- Scottish Orienteering events (PDF 459KB)
- Triathlon Scotland events (PDF 476KB)
- Scottish Endurance Riding Club (PDF 442KB)
- Cycling and mountain biking events (PDF 626KB)
- Dogsports events (PDF 811KB)
- Junior sports guidance note (PDF 247KB)
Permission and permits for motorsports events are managed through exclusive agreements with the Motorsport UK, the Auto Cycle Union (ACU) and the Scottish Auto Cycle Union (SACU):
- Motorsports policy statement (PDF 20KB)
- Motorsport UK master agreement (PDF 630KB)
- Motorsport UK events concordat (PDF 158KB)
- Scottish Auto Cycles Union master agreement (PDF 427KB)
- Auto Cycles Union and Scottish Auto Cycles Union events concordat (PDF 128KB)
The forest trails are open to everyone under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and we welcome horse riders to the forest. For the best places to ride and car parks to use, visit our Horse riding page or contact your regional office. BHS Scotland also provides some helpful responsible riding guidance.
Motor vehicles and motorbikes are not permitted in our forests other than for motorsports events held according to the policy and agreements above. Contact your regional office if you have any questions.
We are delighted for you to photograph and film as part of your visit. For commercial filming or photography, you will need formal permission and a fee is normally charged. Contact your regional office for more information.
Metal detecting as an informal activity or hobby is not allowed on the land we manage. However, metal detecting may be permissible as part of an archaeological project (as part of a project design agreed in advance). This is to ensure that:
- the work is undertaken in agreed locations to agreed standards and methodologies;
- an agreement is in place to ensure the finder waives any right to reward in regard to any discoveries on Scotland's national forests and lands; and that
- an agreement is in place in respect to the costs of any artefact conservation that may be required.
Further information is available in our Metal Detecting guidance note (PDF 556KB).
Placing geocaches on the land we manage is allowed, subject to the conditions and guidance agreed with the Geocaching Association of Great Britain.
We are fortunate enough to manage many special places and wild landscapes that mean a great deal to many people. However, one of the main reasons these places are treasured, is precisely because they feel wild and natural.
We therefore ask people not to leave memorials in the forest – to respect the qualities that others have enjoyed and continue to enjoy.
As some of the habitats we manage are particularly fragile, containing rare plants and wildlife, we respectfully ask that you seek advice from your regional office before scattering ashes.
If leaving flowers, please choose a secluded spot, away from other visitors. Please ensure they are real flowers that will readily biodegrade back into the soil and that all containers, wrappings and ties are removed from the site and disposed of responsibly.
Regrettably, we are unable to accept or maintain memorial benches or similar items in our forests.
Make a donation towards a project
While we can’t plant and maintain memorial trees, you may wish to make a contribution for a loved one to a wider project; helping us care for a site they particularly valued. Projects will vary from site to site but may include tree planting schemes, enhancing a view or improving visitor facilities, to help others enjoy a special place. Again, we regret that no attribution or memorial can be part of the project.
Please contact your regional office for further details.
Can't find the information you're looking for? Contact your local Forestry and Land Scotland office.