Forestry Journal:

This piece is an extract from our A View from the Forest (previously Forestry Features) newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

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THERE are many reasons for the UK's nurseries to burn trees – but rarely, if ever, are there pleasing ones. 

When it's to slow down the spread of disease (as has been the case with Corsican pine and Dothistroma septosporum), that hurts no end, but at least there's a measure of understanding that it is for the greater good. 

But when perfectly good saplings are being thrown into the fire because of political decisions beyond nurseries' control, that becomes a little harder to stomach. 

One of the most damning consequences of the upcoming £32 million budget cut to forestry in Scotland is that the country's tree growers are faced with doing that very thing. Having put in years of graft and planted trees to meet demand brought about by planting targets (set by ministers), they are now warning that millions of trees face being lost before they've even had a chance. 

"We've been encouraged to grow trees by the government to reach this target of 18,000 hectares," Ronald Christie, the owner of Christies of Fochabers, told the BBC. "To grow trees takes a three-year cycle and unless we're told in the next few weeks if there is funding available, this whole lot will have to be destroyed."

He went on to reveal to the broadcaster that this likely means 10 million tree seedlings being ripped up and burnt with perhaps the same happening again next year if the funding allocation remains the same.

To put that into perspective and working off a very rough estimate of 1,600-2,000 trees per hectare, that 10 million is the equivalent of around about 5,000 ha, or a little under a third of Scotland's annual goal going up in smoke. 

Forestry Journal: Craig Turner, right, warned Douglas Alexander that millions of trees faced being burned Craig Turner, right, warned Douglas Alexander that millions of trees faced being burned (Image: Supplied)

Others have sounded similarly downbeat. Craig Turner, chief executive of Alba Trees, told former Labour MP Douglas Alexander during a recent visit: "We plant in line with where policy is heading, but the fall in planting rates in Scotland after several good years means we are likely to have to compost or destroy millions of trees this coming year. It’s such a waste.”

A waste we can ill afford when planting rates are falling.