THE opportunities for woodland creation within one of Scotland’s two national parks will be explored as part of a new fellowship.

The Scottish Government-funded fellowship will independently examine the opportunities and constraints for expanding woodland in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park in order to meet climate and biodiversity priorities.

Fellow Rob McMorran, from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), will hear from land managers within the National Park to find out more about the decisions they make and what their constraints are for woodland creation, and will identify impartial recommendations on what can be done in practice to overcome them.

The fellowship will run until April 2021 and provide objective evidence to contribute to the National Park’s recently launched Trees and Woodlands Strategy.

The strategy highlights the value of trees and woodlands in the National Park and outlines how they are to be protected and enhanced over the next 20 years.

While woodland coverage in the National Park currently stands at 31 per cent, the strategy also sets out a target of 2,000 additional ha of planted or naturally regenerated woodland within the park by 2023, with a focus on native woodland.

This will contribute to achieving the national native woodland-creation target of 3,000 to 5,000 ha per year.

The fellowship is funded by the Scottish Government as part of a partnership between the Scottish Environment, Food and Agriculture Research Institutes (SEFARI) and Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Dr McMorran said: “The fellowship is an important opportunity to provide objective insights on the barriers of new woodland creation in the park from the land manager perspective.

“Woodland creation has an increasingly important role in relation to climate change mitigation and enhancing biodiversity.

“If woodland expansion is to continue, it is important to understand how this can occur in ways which complement existing land uses and offer diversification opportunities for land managers, to ensure it is seen as a viable opportunity.”

Simon Jones, director of conservation and visitor operations at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “Developing new native woodland in the National Park will provide great benefits for biodiversity and in the efforts to tackle the global climate emergency.

“It’s therefore vital we work with land managers to develop woodland-creation proposals that help deliver on these key targets.”

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