Woodland planting weathers the storm

New figures show that Scotland has achieved nearly 80 per cent of the yearly woodland creation target, despite the main planting season being badly affected by a run of winter storms.

Despite the unexpected challenge of events such as storm Arwen, a total of 10,480ha of new woodland was planted from the increased target of 13,500ha.

But even despite the shortfall, Scotland accounted for more than three quarters of planting in the UK – with England creating only 2,260ha of new woodland, while Wales planted 580ha and Northern Ireland 540ha.

The authorities in Scotland had actually approved enough woodland creation schemes to hit the new target but parts of the forestry sector had to divert resources from planting to recovering the millions of trees brought down in the storms.

Storm Arwen caused devastation in many parts of Scotland.

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Storm Arwen damaged 8,000ha of woodland this winter, the equivalent of around 16 million trees, requiring millions of tonnes of timber to be recovered. Scottish Forestry supported the forestry sector throughout the winter storms by reallocating staff resources and fast tracking the paperwork needed to manage the aftermath of the storms.

Data shows that the majority of the shortfall from the yearly target was located in the Grampian, South Scotland and Perthshire areas, which were most badly affected by the storms.

Commenting on the figures, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “Over the last four years Scotland has consistently created over 10,000ha of new woodland each year. This has been achieved during the challenges caused by Brexit, the global Covid pandemic, and the worst winter storms for over 10 years.”

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