Restoring Native Trees and Ecosystems

In terms of climate change, Scotland has set a very ambitious target of net zero for all greenhouse gases by 2045 – five years ahead of the rest of the UK. Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform, announced: “we have pledged to end Scotland’s contribution to climate change, definitively, within a generation”.

Climate scientists concur that time is running out to merely reduce our emissions, we must also remove carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Trees are experts at doing this and in Scotland we have the land to restore native forests at scale.

When we cease to farm livestock, vast areas of land will become available for tree planting and ecosystem restoration. Currently, seventy-seven percent of Scotland’s agricultural land is rough grazing or under permanent pasture. Repurposing and restoring all this land to native forest would remove 1052 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – the equivalent to offsetting more than 22 years of total current Scottish emissions!

In their 2020 budget, the Scottish Government committed £64 million to forestry. Farmers, as custodians of the land, must be paid to do this critical work of farming carbon capture through tree and ecosystem restoration. The Government is already piloting new systems of support in this area so that when the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) ends, the work of restoring our natural world can continue.

Planting trees and restoring ecosystems is not just about climate change mitigation, it also holds tremendous wins for soils, water, biodiversity and rewilding. Take a look at Scotland The Big Picture to see how things could be and explore our case-studies for people who are making it happen.


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