MEETING the challenges of growing more young trees from seed will significantly strengthen Scotland’s contribution to tackling the climate emergency. That’s the premise behind a new Scottish Government innovation challenge offering research and development funding for ideas to improve the country’s existing seed stock.

The challenge, set out by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), is open to individuals, businesses, universities and stakeholders.

Doug Knox, for FLS, said: “The demand for young trees in Scotland in 2019 was more than double what it was a decade ago. We will have to double it again within five years if we are to meet our climate change action plan commitments. And the Committee on Climate Change has called for the amount of tree planting to increase even further. But growing trees is actually a tricky business, especially in the early stages. Most tree species used in forestry are ‘masting’ species, producing good seed crops in certain years with low levels or no seed at all in intervening years.

“As much as two thirds of that available seed can be lost through predation, weed competition, drought or simply a failure to germinate. That’s a substantial loss of viable material so finding ways of meeting any or all of those challenges would greatly improve on the number of saleable tree seedlings that are grown.”

The closing date for applications is 21 August.