The Scottish Government has increased funding to support a higher tree planting target as part of its commitment to tackling climate change.
An additional £5 million has been allocated to plant up to 12,000 hectares of new woodland in 2019/20.
After smashing last year’s 10,000 hectare target, with 11,200 hectares of new woodland planted, we welcomed the intention to build on that success this year – and to look at both bringing forward the achievement of the 2025 target of planting 15,000 hectares a year and setting increased targets beyond 2021.
The Programme for Government says, under Woodland and Forestry Creation: “In the coming year, we will raise our ambition and commit to planting 12,000 hectares. This will be supported by an additional £5 million investment.”
Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confor – the voice of the forestry and wood sector said: “This is a real vote of confidence in Scotland’s £1 billion forestry and wood using sector, which supports more than 25,000 jobs across the country and delivers a wide range of economic and environmental benefits, including mitigating the impacts of climate change and supporting biodiversity.
“The Scottish Government is to be congratulated on taking real action to meet its climate change targets, showing the rest of the UK what can be done when intention is backed up by strong ministerial support, in particular by Fergus Ewing MP and his Deputy Mairi Gougeon, and a partnership approach with the private sector.”
Statistics seen by Confor show that half the new woodland involved planting less than 50 hectares, as a result of many farmers and small landowners seeing the benefits of tree planting as part of a mixed land use approach.
“The success in meeting the planting targets was a shared national endeavour, with lots of small-scale planting on farms and a real variety of woodland, in terms of size, species and planting site,” said Mr Goodall. “The forestry sector looks forward to working with the Scottish Government, farmers, landowners and other interested groups to continue this national endeavour and meet the new targets – to continue delivering multiple benefits for our environment, economy and society and to tackle the climate emergency.”