Letter: Trees needed

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Lesley Riddoch's argument against the blanket rhododendron ban and for more variety in our woodlands (Perspective, 18 July) emphasises the need for more planting. If Atholl Estates are going to supply the fuel for Pitlochry and neighbouring towns which other woods will feed everyone else?

The farming article by Andrew Arbuckle (same day) highlights the issue of timber production and the fact that much recent new planting (at least over the last decade) is unlikely to ever produce useful timber.

It is arguable that Scottish hillsides are declining in productivity after decades, or even centuries, of heavy grazing by sheep and deer.

The best solution may not be an alternative blanket - ie spruce instead of molinia - but a mixed land use incorporating soil improvement; shelter; variety, and above all the production of something tangibly valuable and useful - whether it be a lamb chop or millable timber.

The key to the long-term well-being of our countryside is the economic viability of the businesses that operate there.

The first rule of survival is to have secure shelter, heat and food. The more we can do home grown in the UK the better. Well managed forests can deliver timber production, amenity and wildlife conservation, all at the same time.

Fenning Welstead FICFor, FRICS

The Institute of Chartered Foresters

George Street

Edinburgh

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