Trees should cover 40% of Scotland, say Greens

Scotland should be a "woodland nation" with 40 per cent of the country covered in woods within the next two decades, the Scottish Greens are set to demand.

Heather, birches and aspens at Glen Affric with the Caledonian Forest in the distance. PIC: Flickr/CC/Tim Hayes

Green MSP Andy Wightman will use his speech on Sunday to the party's virtual conference to make the case for "fundamental" land reform.

The party wants more forests to be established across Scotland, with subsidies used to help achieve this along with the creation of new community-owned public forests.

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At present, around 19 per cent of Scotland is covered in forestry and woodland with a government target to raise this to 21% by 2032.

Speaking ahead of his conference speech, Mr Wightman said: "Scottish Greens will be making the case for fundamental change, with a target to reach 40% woodland cover by 2040."

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He added: "Today, up to a fifth of Scotland's land mass is currently used as a playground for the ritual slaughter of grouse and other wildlife for the privileged.

"Let's be clear. Grouse moors have no place in a Scotland that needs communities empowered and forests and peatlands restored."

He said Greens wanted a programme "involving communities, local authorities and local landowners to create a woodland nation".

The Scottish Government, in its forestry strategy published last year, said that more trees are planted in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.

Forestry supports around 25,000 jobs and contributes £1bn to the economy.

The virtual party conference today heart from party co-leader Lorna Slater, who claimed Scottish Greens could catch Labour in next year’s Holyrood elections.

She said opinion polls showed the "momentum is behind us", with rising levels of support for the Greens.

And she told her party's online conference: "We can be the spark that brings hope."

The party returned six MSPs in the last Scottish Parliament election in 2016, with Scottish Labour returning 24 MSPs.

However, polls have suggested that the popularity of Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is falling.

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