FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) will ramp up its tree planting programme this year in a bid to fight back against the devastating damage caused by storms last November. 

Around 25 million new tree seedlings will be planted by the organisation to create woodlands and restock existing forests where older trees have been felled, as well as repairing damaged woodlands.

Tree species will include native ones such as birch, oak, aspen, rowan and commercial conifers such as Scots pine and Sitka spruce. Alternatives such as Norway spruce, Western Red Cedar, Sequoia, Coast redwood and Macedonian pine could also be used. 

READ MORE: Storm Arwen: Mairi McAllan warns Scotland's forests will take 'centuries' to recover

It comes amid warnings from FLS chiefs that around a third of its annual tree felling programme was damaged in a single night when Storm Arwen wreaked havoc in November 2021. Around 900 hectares of FLS' forests, amounting to 739 football pitches, are believed to have been affected by the 100 mph winds. 

As we have told previously, 20 per cent of Scotland's annual timber harvest was damaged by the storms, with forestry bodies using a new mapping tool to assess the situation. 

Doug Knox, FLS head of technical services group, said: “The damage caused by Storm Arwen to publicly managed forests that FLS manages is only half the story, and privately owned forests have been just as badly affected.

“The scale of the damage is making significant demands on the forestry sector. In one night the equivalent of nearly one third of our annual tree felling program blew over as a result of Storm Arwen.

Forestry Journal:

“We are now having to make substantial re-adjustments in work programmes to deal with the clear-up. We are working closely with others in the wider forestry industry to build momentum in the clear-up operation.

READ MORE: Windblown timber needs to be felled 'as soon as possible', warns Confor

“Meanwhile, our large scale tree planting programmes continue so that we can create new conifer and broadleaved forests that will act as the carbon sinks of the future and help to build Scotland’s timber industry.

“Furthermore as managers of around eight per cent of Scotland’s land, our work supports and sustains communities in rural Scotland and conserves and enhances our natural environment for future generations.”