AN SNP target to plant 100m trees in Scotland by the end of 2015 has been missed by more than 11m, it has been revealed.
The Scottish Government unveiled their target in 2010 as part of a bid to cut emissions across the country.
The growth of the nation’s forests by 3.7% was touted as a flagship scheme for the government – as it hoped to demonstrate Scotland could lead the way on tackling pollution and climate change.
But now it has been revealed that the 100m target has been missed by more than 11m.
The dramatic shortfalling has come after government officials faced difficulties negotiating with farmers and landowners.
The pledge was a part of an international drive by Climate Group – an international environment non-profit – to have 1bn new trees planted across the world.
In 2014 Forestry Commission figures showed that more than 5m trees were felled to make space for the new trees – but only 1.6m trees were planted in their place.
When the planting target was announced the National Farmers Union Scotland said “the blunt tool of diverting resources to planting trees on good agricultural land” was “a trap we must avoid.”
And last year “frustrating” encounters between the forestry and farming sectors were described by Scottish parliament’s rural affairs, climate change and environment committee as being a major hurdle for the planting project.
Speaking at the time the committee convener Rob Gibson said that there was “little positive evidence that farming and forestry interests are truly integrating and working together on the scale required to play their part in reducing Scotland’s carbon emissions.”
Murdo Fraser – energy spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives – said: “This is the latest in a catalogue of ludicrous SNP pledges that the party had no intention of ever hitting.
“This was pie-in-the-sky nonsense aimed at appeasing the green lobby.
Environment minister Aileen McLeod responded: “Scotland is actually punching well above its weight when it comes to new planting right across the whole of the UK – we have delivered around two-thirds of all planting since 2010.
“We recognised that planting rates were lower than we would like, and took action, working with the industry to introduce a new forestry grants scheme in April 2015 which addressed many of the sector’s concerns with the previous scheme.
“On current projections we should meet the 100m trees target during 2016.”