Growing green takes care and patience

3rd December 2020

While many organisations claim they take the ‘long view’ not many plan a century or two ahead.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) does just that in its work to plant the forests of the future.

Marking National Tree Week 2020, FLS said that it is on course to have planted 25 million new trees by the end of this planting season.

Tree planting on this scale is at the core of FLS’s work and will play an increasingly important role for years to come, as a key element of the effort to meet Scotland’s climate change targets.

But newly planted trees are vulnerable to browsing damage, especially from deer, for the first 6/7 years.

Speaking about FLS’s tree planting work, Trefor Owen, FLS Director of Land Management, said:

“Every year, we work hard to plant the native and coniferous forests of the future that will help tackle climate change and bring enjoyment to future generations. However, after we plant them, we also have to protect them – around 75 -100 million young trees at any one time – to ensure they reach maturity and reach their potential.

“This is equally important for the slow growing, native species or the faster growing conifers that are hugely important for producing timber products that can replace carbon-heavy materials such as concrete and steel in our buildings and daily lives. 

“We spend a lot of time and effort in managing deer: through bark stripping and browsing they are the single biggest cause of damage to young trees.

“In 100 years’ time, some of the trees that we plant will still be standing. But over that same period three or four generations of trees will have been working just as hard to soak up those emissions and lock them away for long term storage in timber products.

“That is a good feeling.”

Deer are a treasured species and a vital part of Scotland’s biodiversity but it is vital to keep their numbers at non-damaging levels to protect woodland and other habitats.

To help protect Scotland’s national forests and land from the negative impacts of deer, FLS employs a number of techniques, including deer culling and fencing, where appropriate, to keep numbers down to a sustainable level, keeping herds healthy and mitigating against habitat loss.