The climate emergency: What is Forestry and Land Scotland doing?
Scotland’s forest and land have a key role to play in helping to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
We’re already major contributors to the climate change agenda, leading the way in woodland creation, peatland restoration and renewable energy generation. However, there are more opportunities to tackle climate change right across our forests and land, but only by putting nature at the heart of our response can we truly make a difference. To do this, we're using nature-based solutions to many issues and ensuring that protecting biodiversity in our forests and land is foremost in all our work.
We’re responding to the climate emergency by proactively building resilient forests and open land habitats that are future-proofed against wildfire, more frequent storms and flooding, and new or damaging pests and disease. This involves adapting the species structure and composition of woodlands so they continue to flourish, implementing natural flood management measures in high risk water catchments, and stabilizing steep slopes above key transport routes with native woodlands..
We are also playing our part in cutting emissions and capturing carbon by creating new woodlands, balancing timber production and replanting programmes, improving the condition of peatlands and other degraded soils, and working with the wind and hydro sectors to realise the renewable energy potential of the national forests and land. We are working hard to understand the full greenhouse-gas impacts of all of our work, so that we understand where to focus our efforts to make the biggest difference on our journey to net zero emissions.
We aim to become leaders in the land management sector, demonstrating a forward-thinking approach in our climate change action and our response to the biodiversity crisis. We have a unique opportunity to act on a large scale to make a real difference.
Our key actions
Growing more trees and creating forests of all types to lock up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Over the last five years we have created over 4,000 hectares of new woodlands (roughly 3,000 football pitches), and replanted an area of 32,500 hectares. With both new native woodlands and timber producing plantations we will improve natural habitats and provide carbon neutral building materials. Using more wood in construction allows us to help the country move away from energy-intensive materials like concrete and steel.
Restoring peatlands and helping to turn them from carbon sources into carbon storage. This also creates great habitats and improves both water quality and water flows. Since 2015 we have restored 6,500 hectares of peatland, an area the size of 52,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
Generating clean energy. We currently host over 1GW of renewable energy capacity, producing enough energy to power over 600,000 homes. This renewable energy displaces over 1 million tonnes of CO2 which would otherwise be generated by fossil fuels. We continue to work with community groups, private companies and others to create further opportunities for such developments.
Protecting our forests. As the climate changes, pests and diseases are increasingly threatening our trees. We’re focussing on dealing with threats like Phytophthora disease of larch and Dothistroma needle blight on pines, removing infected trees as quickly as possible to prevent further spread. We are also growing our own young trees for planting or using other UK-grown plants to avoid importing pests and diseases.
Making our forests more able to withstand a changing climate. We are looking for places to grow diverse species that will thrive in the uncertain climate they will experience in future. We are designing forests to make them more resistant to being blown over in storms and adapting our roads and other infrastructure to better deal with more intense weather.
Helping biodiversity to cope with a changing climate. We are improving habitats by removing invasive non-native species, restoring ancient woodlands and peatlands, managing the impacts of deer, and expanding and connecting woodlands to create better spaces for more species to thrive.
Helping people to cope with a changing climate. We’re ensuring that, as storms, floods and droughts become more common, our forests and land is part of the solution and not part of the problem. We’re using trees to bind unstable slopes above key transport links, and removing unstable trees that could fall onto power lines and rail routes. We’re also planning our felling to avoid exacerbating downstream flooding, and restoring peatlands to help even out water flows.
Reducing our own impact. We’re committed to reducing the impact that we have as an organisation – monitoring energy use and transport miles, reducing waste, and expanding our fleet of electric vehicles.