THE Scottish Government's minister for environment has seen at first hand the multiple benefits of large-scale tree planting for the country’s economy and environment on a visit to Perthshire.

Màiri McAllan MSP visited the Knowes and Keltie site near Dunning, where 450 hectares of trees (just over 1,100 acres) have been planted over the last two years.

The site in the Ochils has made a significant contribution to helping Scotland plant around 11,000 ha of new woodland in each of the last two years - on its way to a target of 18,000 ha annually by 2025.

From spring 2019 to autumn 2021, almost one million trees have been planted at Knowes and Keltie - a mosaic of different species, including conifers and broadleaves, as well as open ground.

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Màiri McAllan, whose portfolio includes forestry, said: “Scotland is planting around 80 per cent of all the woodland being created in the UK, because we recognise that forests planted to produce wood can deliver a very significant range of benefits for our rural economies and for the future of our environment.

“We are currently importing too much of our timber and we need to switch to using home-grown wood as much as possible. This is a more climate-friendly solution and will help us decarbonise in our efforts to meet net zero.

“These forests are also very important in helping communities grow stronger by creating numerous wealth-building opportunities, which is vital in rural areas.”

In terms of climate change mitigation, Knowes & Keltie is expected to provide a 3,150-tonne annual benefit in terms of carbon dioxide capture and storage.

The scheme also promotes public access and enjoyment by linking forest roads and tracks to an existing network of core paths - particularly suitable for mountain bikers and walkers.

Further planting is now happening on a smaller adjacent site called Kippen. This will create a diverse woodland on an 85-hectare site, based around oak and Douglas fir.

Forestry Journal:

Ralland Browne, managing director of Scottish Woodlands, the company which manages the forest, accompanied the minister on the visit, along with forest managers Jillian Kennedy and Maaike Felstead, and forestry director Ian Robinson.

Mr Browne said: “Knowes and Keltie is a great example of modern forestry - a multi-purpose and mixed-species forest which delivers significant benefits for Scotland, and jobs and access for local people.”

Stuart Goodall, of forestry and wood trade body Confor, which organised the visit, said: “The Scottish Government has been a strong supporter of forestry in recent years and it was a pleasure to be able to show the minister a modern, mixed-species, multi-purpose planting site.  We need to keep planting productive forests to secure future timber supply - to support our domestic forestry and wood processing industry but also to take responsibility for growing more of our own wood.

“With global timber demand rising rapidly and increasing demand at home for wood to build low-carbon, high-quality homes, we need to plant now to provide the wood we’ll need in the coming decades. By doing that to the highest modern forest standards, we also make a massive contribution to Scotland’s climate change ambitions, support biodiversity and offer great places for people to enjoy.”