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Minister hails result

‘Outstanding’ tree planting but target missed

Forestry

Scotland plants most of the UK’s trees

Tree planting in Scotland reached its second highest total for nearly 20 years last year, though it missed the government’s target.

A total of 10,860 hectares of new woodland was planted, down from 11,210 hectares in 2018/19.

It meant the Scottish Government missed its 12,000 hectares target, blaming a ‘very wet winter’ and the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The SNP welcomed the figure, stressing that Scotland has delivered more than 80% of all new tree planting across the UK.

It said the Scottish Government has set world leading climate change targets in the world, including on tree planting, with the UN’s COP26 climate change summit also scheduled to take place in Glasgow next year.

SNP shadow DEFRA spokesperson Deidre Brock said: “With over 10,000 hectares of new woodland planted – meaning nearly 22m more trees were planted in Scotland last year – Scotland has shown a determination in doing all it can and more in the fight against climate change.”

Stuart Goodall

Stuart Goodall: ‘very good result’ (pic: Terry Murden)

She said the figures “show how Scotland continues to lead the way in the UK on planting trees and in the future, this needs to be reflected in the funding being provided for this vital activity from the UK government.”

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of the forestry and wood trade body Confor, described the statistics as “a very good result in the light of major challenges” and said he was optimistic about future planting levels. 

“In the face of major challenges, this is a very good result and shows the sector is in a strong place to meet targets for 2020-21 and beyond,” he said.

There are already tree planting approvals for 2020/21 for more than 9,000 hectares, and a further 7,000 hectares of applications being worked on.

Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is an outstanding result in what were really difficult circumstances.”

Scotland’s forests cover 18.8% of the total land mass area and the Scottish Government’s forestry strategy is to increase this to 21% by 2032.

However, global environmental group Kaitiaki Consulting said Scotland needs large scale tree-planting of up to one billion trees to achieve the country’s ambitious climate change goals and help the economy recover after COVID-19.

The Scotland and New Zealand-based ecological and environmental consultants said this would emulate New Zealand’s 2028 target.

Alex Foulkes, Edinburgh-based managing director of Kaitiaki Consulting, said: “These new figures are disappointing and show how much work is required to meet Scotland’s tree-planting targets.”



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