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Scotland is on track to meet its yearly tree planting targets despite the challenges of Covid.
Scottish Forestry’s staff have been hailed for working at a ‘record rate’ having approved applications for more than 13,000 hectares of new woodland for 2021.
The yearly planting targets were increased to 12,000 hectares last year and will rise to 18,000 hectares in 2024/25.
Fergus Ewing MSP, cabinet secretary for the rural economy, said: ‘This really is a remarkable achievement by all those concerned and I would like to pay tribute to everyone working in the sector – public and private – who are out there right now, working hard to deliver our planting targets.
‘In a year of unprecedented adversity with Covid, Brexit and heavy, persistent snow at the beginning of this year – this is such positive news.’
Mr Ewing said it was not all down to large forestry companies but significant interest from smaller woodland owners, farmers and crofters who are planting almost 200 of the 320 woodland creation schemes.
He said: ‘There are 13,000 hectares of projects approved this financial year, and over 6,000 hectares for next year already approved. It’s great news that we are on track to deliver on our planting target.’
The government said the increase in tree planting will help in the global fight against climate change and aid Scotland’s ‘green recovery’.
The forestry sector supports around 25,000 jobs in Scotland and generates £1 billion to the economy each year.