Figures published today show that despite the impact of Covid-19, Scotland’s woodland creation continued at pace with around 89% of the 12,000 hectares target being achieved.
Last year, 10,660 hectares of new woodland was created – the equivalent of over 21 million trees in the ground.
Ongoing COVID restrictions, combined with heavy rain and snow across most of Scotland in March, resulted in unavoidable delays to planting. However, Scottish Forestry has been working closely with woodland managers, and much of the delayed planting was able to be achieved in April and May, before the end of the planting season.
The combined area of new woodland generated by England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 2,750 hectares. This means that Scotland continues to produce around 80 per cent of all new woodland planting in the UK.
Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, said that the tree planting activity across Scotland was ”positive progress” by land managers both large and small:
“Despite the significant impact of COVID-19, there has been a tremendous enthusiasm for tree planting in Scotland, and we are confident that as grant claims are made over the summer, we will meet this government’s first 100 days commitment to complete the creation of 12,000 hectares of new woodland.”
“We need to build on this and create more woodlands to tackle climate change, boost our economy and improve our environment. And we must expand our forests and woodlands in a careful and considered way.
“Future planting levels look very encouraging. Scottish Forestry has already issued approved contracts that will realise nearly 9,000 hectares of new woodland this year and there are many other woodland creation proposals under development.
“What has been achieved is quite remarkable in the most trying and unprecedented of years. I’d like to praise the hard work of land managers and everyone else in the forest industries who have helped in the national effort and planted for Scotland.”
Of the total new woodlands at least 3,000 hectares were native species, meeting the commitment in the Biodiversity Strategy to plant between three and five thousand hectares of native woodland each year.
Scotland has ambitious woodland creation targets which are rising from 12,000 hectares a year to 18,000 hectares a year by 2024/25.
Scotland’s forests and woodlands play an important role in tackling climate change by soaking up around 9.5 million tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions each year.