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Scotland’s forestry sectors have sounded the alarm over impending budget cuts that could jeopardise climate change targets for new woodland.

Both Woodland Trust Scotland and an industry body warn of potential cuts exceeding £32 million, representing a staggering 41% reduction in a grant scheme aimed at incentivising tree planting.

Ministers have struggled to meet annual woodland creation targets, missing five out of the last six years. Woodland plays a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases, contributing to Scotland’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2045.

Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon acknowledged the likelihood of missing next year’s target due to budget constraints imposed by the UK government.

Despite this setback, Scotland still outpaces the rest of the UK combined in woodland creation.

The Forestry Grant Scheme has been instrumental in supporting forestry and conservation projects. However, despite approvals for 14,000 hectares of new woodland creation this year, budget limitations would only facilitate the planting of 9,000 hectares.

Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confor, commended the government’s ambition but expressed concern over a consistent decline in actual woodland planting over the past five years.

“This proposed cut will only serve to make the gap between targets and delivery ever wider. A bad situation will become worse,” he said.

Alastair Seaman, director of Woodland Trust Scotland, emphasised the urgent need for investment over mere rhetoric.

“Creating new woodland and protecting what we’ve already got is one of the simplest and most effective responses we have to the climate and nature crises.

“It makes no sense to pull the rug out from under the sector in this way,” he said.

Gougeon reiterated her commitment to maximising forestry’s role in addressing climate change, emphasising the significance of adding 9,000 hectares of new woodland, even if falling short of the target.

“We all now need to focus on getting as much woodland created and trees planted within our means,” she said.

“We currently have record approvals for new woodland schemes and we need to concentrate in turning as many of these schemes into trees in the ground.”



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The decline in our wildlife is shocking and frightening. Without much more support, many of the animals we know and love will continue in their decline towards extinction.

When you help to restore a patch of degraded land through rewilding to forests, meadows, or wetlands, you have a massive impact on the biodiversity at a local level. You give animals a home and food that they otherwise would not have had, and it has a positive snowball effect on the food chain.

We are convinced that this is much better for the UK than growing lots of fast-growing coniferous trees, solely to remove carbon, that don’t actually help our animals to thrive.

This is why we stand for restoring nature in the UK through responsible rewilding. For us, it is the right thing to do. Let’s do what’s right for nature!

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