Roy Turnbull (Letters, 28 March) is wrong when he claims that to restore Scotland’s Caledonian Forest by natural regeneration would take generations. Take a walk through the Cairngorms and you will see what has been achieved in just ten years of sustained effort in reducing excessive grazing by red deer.
The forest is coming back, steadily re-establishing the natural sequence of woodland habitats from forest floor to altitudinal treeline. This is being achieved across the massif, from Abernethy through Glenmore, Rothiemurchus and Glenfeshie to Derry and Mar Lodge, by a range of private and public sector organisations and enlightened individuals. To start planting in such places destroys the ecological integrity of our ancient forests and landscapes, is unnecessary and a waste of money. All we need is patience and sound deer management and nature will do the rest.
Elsewhere, where no native woodland is left, our degraded hill slopes may benefit from new planting, but the effort and costs involved in such planting does need to deliver maximum return. If we want to use our grasslands, peatlands and forests to capture the maximum quantities of carbon, protect our watersheds and produce wild and beautiful landscapes, we will need to plant in some places. But let us make sure first of all that we have given natural regeneration the best chance to deliver these benefits, at minimum cost, by effective control of deer and sheep grazing.
Director, Ramblers Scotland