AT LEAST 50% of the new trees planted in Scotland should be native species, according to Woodland Trust Scotland.

Calling on the Scottish Government to raise the proportion of native trees required in overall planting targets in its Climate Change Plan, the Trust declared its intention to work directly with more land managers to help reach that target.

Woodland Trust Scotland director Carol Evans said: “Sign our petition. We are calling on Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham to include an ambitious native woodland creation target in the Climate Change Plan update. We are calling for that target to be at least 50% of new woods created.”

Woodland Trust Scotland public affairs manager Arina Russell said: “A young wood, with mixed native species can lock up more than 400 tonnes of carbon per hectare, in its trees, roots and soil. The Just Transition Commission’s advice on green recovery calls for diversified tree planting because native trees are more effective in capturing carbon.

“Currently around 40% of new planting in Scotland is with native trees. We would like to see this increased to at least 50% because native trees are more effective at capturing carbon when planted at scale and over a long period.”

Existing native woodland currently covers only 4% of Scotland’s land area and is highly fragmented. Native tree species include Scots pine, birch, alder, willow, oak, rowan, hazel, wild cherry, aspen, holly, juniper, elder and hawthorn – but over the last century commercial foresters have tended to plant non-native trees such as Sitka spruce.

The Trust stressed that native trees can be commercial crops too, while giving maximum support to biodiversity and locking up carbon– and it has pledged to plant 50 million of them across the UK by 2025 to help tackle climate change.

To that end it is seeking to work directly with more land managers to increase native woodland cover.

Senior outreach manager James McDougall said: “Land managers, farmers, crofters, fisheries boards – please talk to us about trees. Our advice is free and we can guide you through the Government grant process and in some cases offer financial support ourselves. Our highly-qualified advisors can help you through the entire process, from plan to planting.”

Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods scheme covers 75% of the cost of trees, tubes and stakes for planting 0.5Ha - 3Ha. All the work beforehand is done by the Trust. All land managers need to do is plant the trees. For larger areas, applications can be eligible for up to 100% of materials costs.

This month, Woodland Trust is distributing 628,005 native trees to 3092 schools and community groups across the UK. Of those, 67,830 trees will go to Scotland where 281 schools and groups will benefit. These include Huntly Climate Action, Udny Climate Action, Galston Angling Club, 48th Ayrshire (Dundonald) Scout Group, Dumfries University Sustainability Team, Sustaining North Berwick, Musselburgh Shed Project, Kinghorn Community Land Association, Sleat Community Trust, Falkirk Community Trust, Bluevale Shift Project, Kilmadock Climate Action and Evanton Community Wood.

These tree packs have been funded by lead partners Sainsbury’s, players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, Lloyds Bank, OVO Energy, Joules, Bank of Scotland and Sofology