Welcome for RSPB comments on tree planting

8 February 2017

Confor has welcomed positive comments made by the RSPB in response to the Scottish Government's proposal to increase tree planting targets by 50 per cent by 2025.

The new targets for woodland creation were revealed in January by Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham as part of the draft Climate Change Plan. 

The target is to plant 10,000 hectares (ha) of new woodland (around 22 million trees) every year to 2020, then to increase planting to 12,000ha from 2020-21, 14,000ha from 2022-23 and 15,000ha from 2024-25.

The Cabinet Secretary also revealed plans to increase the use of Scottish wood products in construction from its current level of 2.2 million cubic metres to 3 million cubic metres by 2031-2. 

In its evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform committee, the RSPB said: 

"We welcome the policy to plant 10,000ha of trees per year and cautiously welcome the ambition for increasing the planting rate to 15,000ha of trees by 2025.  

"We welcome the aim to increase the amount of timber used in construction and the commitment to investigate how to achieve more tree planting on farms.  

However, it said the ambition to increase planting rates to 15,000ha per year "lacks some credibility given that the existing target of 10,000ha per annum has been repeatedly missed”. There was also a call for “more research... into the implications for soil carbon of tree planting, especially on shallow peat, in order to better gauge the whole lifecycle climate benefits of planting different tree species in the wide variety of soil types”. 

Andrew Heald, Technical Director of Confor, said: "It is encouraging that the RSPB is supportive of ambitious tree planting targets, and that it recognises the value of increasing timber use in construction, and of more tree planting on farms. 

"Confor will continue to engage positively with the RSPB and all other groups with an interest in the future of our rural areas to discuss the best possible environmental, economic and social options for Scotland’s land."