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A render of a glasshouse with buildings and a parking lot

A new glasshouse will soon be added to our nursery near Elgin. The building will be around the size of two football pitches and capable of growing up to 19 million trees a year.

This exciting addition is part of a major modernisation project that hopes to start in 2024. The project will increase our self-sufficiency and see our nursery provide more trees to support Scotland’s ambitious tree planting targets.

This new 12000m2 glasshouse is a central part of this redevelopment that also includes new offices and a new distribution and operations centre.

Growing our trees inside the glasshouse will allow our nursery team to have more control over the growing environment, meaning the seedlings are less vulnerable to damage from extreme weather events and competition from weeds. Trials show germination rates could be improved by as much as 60%, demonstrating a much more efficient use of valuable seeds.

Energy and resource efficiency is core to the redevelopment. A mini well (borehole) will supply water to irrigate the seedlings so there will be no new demand on the mains water system, and low energy use technologies have been incorporated into the building design, while solar panels will supplement electricity use.

Tree seedlings growing in the ground

Small saplings growing in the outdoor nursery beds. Currently we grow 7 million trees a year but hope to increase this with our expansion project. 

The stock produced will be mostly conifer species such as Lodge Pole Pine, Scots Pine, Sitka and Norway Spruce, which are the backbone of Scotland’s £1 billion forestry industry. These trees will be planted out into existing forests all over Scotland as older trees are felled and to create new forests of the future. The resulting wood products will help the UK reduce its reliance on imported timber, reducing pressure on vulnerable forests around the world.

Once the redevelopment is complete, Newton could have up to 25 million trees growing on site in any one year. A significant increase from the 7 million trees we are currently able to produce. Some of these will be newly planted and others will be more than a year old and ready to send to forests around Scotland.

Speaking about the nursery’s expansion and the anniversary, Alan Duncan, our Head of Plant and Seed Supply, said:

“This modernisation will allow us to continue developing new techniques for growing, planting, and harvesting trees for forests now and in the future, to increase woodland cover and to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“Innovation and experimentation are part and parcel of the nursery’s planning for the forests of the future: we already invest significantly in research including work on vertical farming of tree seedlings; Silvibio, an organic seed coating which saves 50 litres of water per seed planted and Tape4Trees which allows us plant up to 1 million tree seedlings in a single day.”

Last year Newton Nursery marked its 90th anniversary. We are excited to be doubling its size and boosting the overall capacity within Scotland’s tree nursery sector — which is essential to delivering Scotland’s Climate Emergency response.

The redevelopment and modernisation — made possible with financial support from Scottish Government — represents the biggest, single infrastructure investment we’ve ever made. It should be complete by early 2025.