Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment, has seen at first hand the multiple benefits of large-scale tree planting for the country’s economy and environment.
Ms McAllan visited the Knowes & Keltie site near Dunning, Perthshire, where a 450 hectare (ha) site has been planted over the last two years.
The site in the Ochils has made a significant contribution to helping Scotland plant around 11,000 ha of new woodland in each of the last two years – on its way to a target of 18,000 ha annually by 2025.
From spring 2019 to autumn 2021, almost one million trees have been planted at Knowes & Keltie – a mosaic of different species, including conifers and broadleaves, as well as open ground.
Ms McAllan, whose portfolio includes forestry, said: “Scotland is planting around 80% of all the woodland being created in the UK, because we recognise that forests planted to produce wood can deliver a very significant range of benefits for our rural economies and for the future of our environment.
“We are currently importing too much of our timber and we need to switch to using home-grown wood as much as possible. This is a more climate-friendly solution and will help us decarbonise in our efforts to meet net zero.
“These forests are also very important in helping communities grow stronger by creating numerous wealth-building opportunities, which is vital in rural areas.”
In terms of climate change mitigation, Knowes & Keltie is expected to provide a 3,150-tonne annual benefit in terms of carbon dioxide capture and storage.
The scheme also promotes public access and enjoyment by linking forest roads and tracks to an existing network of core paths – particularly suitable for mountain bikers and walkers.
Further planting is now happening on a smaller adjacent site called Kippen. This will create a diverse woodland on an 85 ha site, based around oak and Douglas fir.
Ralland Browne FICFor, Managing Director of Scottish Woodlands Ltd, the company which manages the forest, accompanied the minister on the visit, along with Forest Managers, Jillian Kennedy and Maaike Felstead (both Associate members of the Institute), and Forestry Director Ian Robinson MICFor.
Mr Browne FICFor said: “Knowes & Keltie is a great example of modern forestry – a multi-purpose and mixed-species forest which delivers significant benefits for Scotland, and jobs and access for local people.”