Scotland "smashes" tree planting targets with five-sixths of UK total

Scotland saw 11,200 hectares of new forest planting in 2018/19, well ahead of the official annual target 10,000ha, new figures published today (13 June) show.

Image: Confor
Image: Confor

Over one-third of the area was made up of broad-leaved species. The figure is 58% up on last year, when 7,100 ha of new trees were planted, and means Scotland accounted for 84% of all new UK planting.

The figure backs up the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Route Map commitments for new native woodland creation. It says there is already strong demand for applications for planting in the year ahead.

Rural Economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: "This is fantastic news that we’ve smashed the targets. It is testament to the Scottish Government making forestry a priority and investing and helping growing the industry."

He added: "With an increase in tree planting in the pipeline, it is now more important than ever to make sure the right trees are planted in the right places."

Around 1,000ha of the total was planted by the newly created agency Forestry and Land Scotland, the rest by a range of private forestry interests.

The Scottish Government says an improved and streamlined applications process, more promotion and better grant packages have helped boost tree planting.

Its future planting targets are set to increase to 15,000ha a year from 2024/25, with the aim of raising tree cover to 21 % by 2032.

Forestry and wood processing Confor has welcomed the news. Its chief executive Stuart Goodall said: "Confor has worked long and hard with the Scottish Government to get to this point and I truly hope the momentum will be maintained in the coming years.

"We now need the rest of the UK to move beyond ramped-up rhetoric on a climate emergency and begin to take the positive action that we see in Scotland."

Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans said: "We need to both expand the area of Scotland’s woods and significantly improve the condition of the forest habitats we already have.

"Suitably managed native woods can be the nation’s green lungs. Native trees are often planted for longevity and therefore lock up carbon for longer."

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