Growing our forests is key to combating climate change

Forests and woodlands are a natural powerhouse and among Scotland’s most valuable rural assets. Our ambition is for them to expand and flourish.

Our forest industry is at the heart of the rural economy, contributing over £1 billion each year and supporting around 25,000 jobs.

Scotland’s forests and woodlands are home to some of our most iconic species, and access to green spaces has also been shown to enhance health and wellbeing.

But these are not the only important benefits. Growing our forests is key to tackling the climate emergency we are facing.

Currently, around 12 million tonnes of CO2 are absorbed by Scotland’s forests every year, and increasing the size of our forests and woodlands means we can store even more greenhouse gases.

We are firmly committed to growing our forests. New figures published reveal that we have smashed our yearly 10,000 hectare national tree planting target. 11,200 hectares of new woodland has been planted in a year – that’s around 22 million trees.

Our forest industry is also outpacing the rest of the UK, with 84 per cent of all new planting taking place in Scotland over the past year. An enormous achievement by all involved.

The Scottish Government has directly contributed towards surpassing the planting targets through its agency Forestry and Land Scotland, which planted around 1000 hectares. A significant contribution to the overall effort.

Scotland’s forests play a vital role in our transition to being a carbon neutral country. As part of our climate change commitments, the Scottish Government has increased planting targets for the future, rising to 15,000 hectares each year by 2025. This boost will not only help us capture more CO2 emissions but will strengthen the economy too.

Our commitment to tree planting is echoed in our drive to build on the use of Scottish timber. The more timber we use on construction the more carbon we will lock up, which is good for everyone. We aim to increase the use of Scottish wood products in construction to 2.6 million cubic metres by 2021-22, and 3 million cubic metres by 2031-2.

The forestry industry has the full backing of the Scottish Government, demonstrated through the new National Forestry Strategy and backed up with £20 million investment to plant trees in Scotland’s national forests.

We are committed to reversing the historic decline in woodland creation. Growing our forests and woodlands benefits everyone, especially in the fight against climate change.