The Forests of the Future

by Tilhill Forestry Assistant Forest Manager, Hannah Richardson South West Scotland

Since my last blog woodland creation has become a much larger aspect of my day to day job.

As an Environmental Science graduate and keen environmentalist, I enjoy the challenges and rewards that come from being a part of woodland creation projects. Despite the majority of the woodland creations in my area being large commercial conifers, it is nice to know that there are multiple benefits to planting a wood or forest in addition to the main focus of timber income.

Benefits such as:

  • Encouraging wildlife corridors and more diverse habitat networks.
  • Encouraging a more diverse range of wildlife into areas that were often previously overgrazed hills.
  • These areas are also providing carbon sequestration and storage to help reduce our impact upon the climate. This was mentioned in a recent article which stated that in Scotland alone approximately 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 are removed from the atmosphere by forests each year.
  • Providing outdoor environments for public enjoyment, for activities such as walking, cycling, running and exercising. It is nice to see the environments we create enjoyed by local communities. It is now recognised in Scotland that ‘forest bathing’ is good for maintaining good mental health.
  • Enhancing ecosystem services such as reducing flood risk to neighbouring communities by stabilisation of soils through tree roots.
  • Providing a sustainable local timber, wood fuel and woodland product source which will become increasingly important to the local economy.
  • Providing a more diverse landscape to enjoy.

Being a part of woodland creation proposals and their implementation is as much about planning as it is about the groundwork.

It is vitally important that the ground conditions are suitable for the species we are going to be planting on site as changes can have a big impact on the landscape, wildlife and rural economy of the area.

With ever increasing government targets for afforestation that sometimes feel unachievable, it was great to see the recent announcement that Scotland has achieved 11,200 hectares of new planting last year, with the target originally being set at 10,000 hectares.

I look forward to the challenges that are still to come with new planting schemes and to continue to meet and exceed the targets set for us in order to do our bit to tackle climate change.