Leader comment: To tree or not to tree?

Trees are a natural and beautiful part of Scotlnd's landscape - but not for all of it.
Trees are a natural and beautiful part of Scotlnd's landscape - but not for all of it.
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A passing acquaintance with Scotland’s outdoors would not lead most observers to mutter under their breath: “What this place needs is a few more trees”.

But similarly, few of the above mentioned observers are likely to come to the conclusion: “No room here for any more trees”.

Trees, generally, are regarded as a good thing in the modern world. They have a certain aesthetic beauty, both when looked at en masse from a distance and also close up – forests can be lovely places in which to roam. They also have very environmentally sound uses, as a taker-in of carbon, and as a sustainable building and energy source.

So it is easy to see why the Scottish Government wants to see more of them. It has ambitious plans that would see woodland cover to go from 17 to 25 per cent by 2050 and a commitment to plant 10,000 extra hectares of trees between now and 2022 was made in the government’s draft Climate Plan.

But deep in the forest dissent is stirring. Mountaineering Scotland and the Scottish Gamekeepers Association have jointly written to Scotland’s environment secretary concerned that the traditional open views and vistas of Scotland might be under threat.

And despite all the advantages trees can bring, they are right. But there is surely a reasonable solution here. And that has to be an acceptance that not everywhere is suitable for trees and we really should preserve the distinctive nature of Scotland’s landscape.

But also that there are places where further forests would in fact be an overall addition to the country. All it really takes now is for the Scottish government to take that view and make it clear to all concerned.