First Minister renews commitment to planting targets at major global event

Confor has welcomed the renewed commitment by Nicola Sturgeon to create 100,000 hectares of new woodland in Scotland by 2022.

The First Minister made the announcement yesterday in her opening address at The World Forum on Natural Capital, at the EICC in Edinburgh.

She said in her speech: "Trees help to absorb carbon dioxide and store it as carbon. In recent years, Scotland has been responsible for almost three quarters of the UK's new tree planting. 

"We have planted approximately 16 million trees every year. We are committed to increase planting rates even further so that we plant 100,000 hectares of trees in the decade to 2022. That would be equivalent to 200 million new trees - just under 40 for every person living in Scotland."

Later, the First Minister stressed the need to combine environmental and economic approaches in her speech to 500 conference delegates from more than 40 countries. She said: "The John Muir Way passes close to this conference centre. It is named after the Scottish environmentalist who is known as the father of America's national parks movement. Also within a mile of here is the grave of Adam Smith, who practically invented the modern study of economics. 

"What we need to do now, more than ever, is to combine the preoccupations of those two great Scots. It seems fitting for Scotland to play a leading role in doing that. We intend to ensure that our approach to economic development, takes account of the custodianship of our natural resources."

Confor's Technical Director Andrew Heald, who attended the event and heard the First Minister's speech, said: "While achieving the 100,000-hectare planting target is crucial for Scotland to meet its world-leading carbon reduction targets, it is also very pleasing to hear the First Minister recognise the significant natural capital benefits that will also arise from creating these new forests.

"Modern forest design means that we produce a renewable resource - wood - but also deliver a wide range of benefits for wildlife and for people. At the same time, the forestry and wood sector supports thousands of jobs delivered in our rural economies, creating investment and growth across Scotland.

"Forestry is a unique sector which can deliver economic and environmental benefits simultaneously - because  trees soak up carbon and wood products store it. Confor looks forward to working with Nicola Sturgeon, Forestry Minister Aileen McLeod and the wider Scottish Government team to help deliver the 100,000-hectare target and the very wide range of benefits it will bring."

Nicola Sturgeon's speech to the World Forum on Natural Capital can be found here while the link to the Forum website is here