Storm damage to Scotland's trees and forests forces wind of change to blow in, writes Ilona Amos
I admit there was a tear in my eye when I saw pictures of a tree I grew up with lying broken on the ground, nothing left standing but a splintered trunk.
The palm tree, which had stood guard over Plockton bay since the 1950s, was downed as fierce winds struck the west coast on Sunday night.
Yes, it was a sad day, but the loss of this ageing palm was not entirely unexpected and pales into insignificance when you count the devastation left in the wake of Storm Arwen and its successor Storm Barra.
Early estimates using satellite tech suggest around eight million trees were brought down in Scotland during the gales, which saw gusts reaching up to 100mph blasing the country, causing widespread travel chaos and claiming three lives across the UK.
Areas on the east coast were the worst hit, with around 4,000 hectares of woodlands wiped out.
The most intensive damage runs down the east coast, across the Borders and East Lothian, stretching into Galloway, while another swathe runs through Banffshire, Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire, Angus and into Perthshire.
Aftermath shots showing the scale of the destruction, with entire forests flattened in some places, are shocking.
It’s hard to imagine that any good could come out of events like these, but perhaps there is a small silver lining.
We all know that climate change will bring increasingly torrid weather and we and the natural environment will need to adapt to survive.
According to Scottish Forestry’s Doug Howieson, nature is a quick healer and the loss of large areas of plantation trees presents an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and plant back better.
He says new plans, using the most up-to-date-information and techniques, can be put into action earlier than expected, helping future-proof woodlands.
Methods will include selecting the right species for particular places and conditions, with attributes such as resilience against climatic challenges and emerging pests and disease.
Forestry workers have said the recent storm damage will take around a year to clear up but replanting will be carried out as quickly as possible.
Scotland has around 2.9 billion trees, stretching across 1.45 million hectares of land.
Around 62 million new trees are planted here each year – sure they can dig in a few extra to make up for the losses.
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