SCOTS pine has been hailed as a "symbol of durability" a decade on from it being declared Scotland's national tree. 

The species – one of only three native conifers to the British isles – secured more than 50 per cent of the votes in a public ballot held more than 10 years ago. Native to the Caledonian pine forests, Pinus sylvestris is used extensively in timber and is the most common pine tree in the world. 

And this week MSPs gathered in the Scottish Parliament to mark the anniversary of it receiving special status north of the border. 


"That tree is a symbol of Scotland, with a rich and storied history," said Green MSP Ariane Burgess. "Pine candles were used in wedding rituals in fishing communities, as they were believed to bring prosperity and luck. In Orkney, people would circle a pine candle three times around a mother and newborn child. 

Forestry Journal: Green MSP Ariane BurgessGreen MSP Ariane Burgess

"Scots pines mark the burial places of warriors, heroes and chieftains. When wearing tartan was outlawed after the Jacobite uprising, the MacGregor clan wore the Scots pine as their plant badge in a gesture of defiance.

"As the largest and longest-lived tree in the Caledonian forest, Scots pine is a symbol of durability." 

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, MSPs highlighted the work being done to protect Scotland's native woodlands and Caledonian pinewoods, with the latter's survival said to be on a "knife-edge". 

Ms Burgess added: "Native woodland restoration is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential part of the response to the climate emergency that is playing out in front of our eyes right now.

“Without increased efforts to save them, they could be lost forever.”

Glasgow MSP Bill Kidd said: "Scotland’s native woodlands are a national treasure to be enjoyed by all. One tree that is often found skirting those woodlands like a guardian and protector is the Scots pine—an imposing, majestic giant looming over the land, reaching skyward and earthward and inspiring and connecting us." 

Forestry Journal: Oliver Mundell was among those to criticise commercial forestry during the debateOliver Mundell was among those to criticise commercial forestry during the debate

During the debate, MSPs also criticised the 41 per cent cut to the Woodland Creation budget and called for more to be done to control Scotland's deer. The Knoydart Forest Trust's was also praised by politicians. 

However, the discussion was not without its criticism of the forestry sector. Several MSPs claimed the presence of Sitka spruce was harmful to the local environment and did not add to biodiversity, despite research suggesting the opposite can be true. 

This included Oliver Mundell, whose Dumfriesshire constituency is a hotbed of commercial forestry. He said: "I understand that there is an economic benefit to having home-sourced commercial timber, but the Sitka spruce does not add much biodiversity."