A SCOTTISH Government agency has pledged to plant 250 million new trees from 2021 until 2022.
The ambitious project looks to plant five new trees for every person living in Scotland to help create future forests and contribute to Scotland’s climate change targets.
The initiative led by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) also aims to cull 30,000 deer as a means of protecting the newly planted trees, a figure reduced due to COVID-19.
FLS say they will also be maintaining 2,500km of deer fencing – enough to stretch from Edinburgh to Berlin and back.
FLS added that they will harvest around nine million trees generating £410m in gross value added for the Scottish economy.
The massive tree planting effort will include native species such as birch, oak, aspen, rowan and commercial conifers such as Scots pine and Sitka spruce.
The project aims to lock carbon emissions away in practical and in-demand products such as timber frames for housing and wooden pallets.
Harvested timber is also used in the manufacture of packaging, face masks and as biomass fuel used in many hospital heating systems.
Doug Knox, FLS Head of Technical Services Group said: “Effective management of the forests and land that we look after, supports and sustains communities in rural Scotland and conserves and enhances our natural environment for future generations.
“Our ambitious tree planting programmes will create new conifer and broadleaved forests that will act as the carbon sinks of the future, benefitting the Climate Emergency effort, biodiversity, and Scotland’s economy.
“But realising these benefits involves protecting those forests and giving them their best chance of reaching maturity and part of that involves managing deer numbers.
“It is a constant challenge for all land managers but efforts to control deer numbers are vital to protect sensitive environments, commercial forestry and agricultural crops and to mitigate climate change.”
For their first six years of growth newly planted and young trees are extremely vulnerable to browsing damage from deer, and to a lesser extent, sheep and goats.
FLS say they are working to protect around 150 million trees until they are big enough that their leading branches can’t be eaten by animals, and can then go on to reach maturity.
Mr Knox added:“We constantly monitor deer populations across the land that we manage to ensure that we can meet our wider objectives and maintain a diverse and thriving forest environment.”
“That environment will always include deer but at population levels the land can comfortably sustain, without suffering damage.”
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on work practices has seen a dip in culling levels in 2021, which means that more work will need to be done to protect young trees in the coming years.