SCOTLAND’S national annual tree-planting targets for the year have been surpassed.

According to new figures, 11,200 hectares of planting has been undertaken in Scotland in the past year, comfortably beating the current 10,000-ha annual target. Last year, 7,100 ha of new trees were planted.

The Scottish forest industry is outstripping the rest of the UK, as 84 per cent of all new planting took place in Scotland.

The new woodland figures also confirmed the Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Route Map commitments for new native woodland creation are being met, with the establishment of around 3,900 ha of new broadleaves.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is fantastic news that we’ve smashed the targets. It is testament to the Scottish Government making forestry a priority. The whole tree-planting effort has truly been a national endeavour, with all forestry interests, both large and small, pulling together.

“With an increase in tree planting in the pipeline, it is now more important than ever to make sure the right trees are planted in the right places.

“A new approach to woodland creation proposals was introduced last year and whilst this has helped us deliver the target, it also ensures that communities and interest groups are consulted along the way.

“But there is also a huge environmental significance to the increase in tree planting. We are now facing a global environment emergency.

“In Scotland alone, around 9.5 million tonnes of CO² each year are removed from the atmosphere by our forests – this is a clear example of why an increase in tree planting is so important in the fight against climate change.”

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, said: “Confor has worked long and hard with the Scottish Government to get to this point and I truly hope the momentum will be maintained in the coming years. We now need the rest of the UK to move beyond ramped-up rhetoric on a climate emergency and begin to take the positive action that we see in Scotland.”