SCOTLAND IS on track to plant 12,000 hectares this financial year - the equivalent of more than 22,000 football pitches.

Despite challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government has confirmed it is well on its way to planting 18,000 hectares each year from 2024/2025 and has urged the UK Government to 'step up its game' in the fight against climate change.

Commenting, SNP MSP Richard Lyle said: “It is incredibly impressive that in Scotland, we have been able to reach our targets of planting 12,000 hectares of trees and it was encouraging to hear from Fergus Ewing that we will be ramping up our targets and are set to exceed this year’s.

“This is all down to the hard work of tree planters, farmers and crofters and despite the challenges they have faced in the past year have continued to reach our targets and lead the UK in woodland creation.

Previous research has shown Scotland is leading the way in tree-planting in the UK, with 82% of total UK plantings taking place in Scotland.

Mr Lyle continued: “Ensuring our lands are rich in woodlands is incredibly important in our aim to tackle climate change as not only do they absorb harmful gases but also produce oxygen to clean the very air we breathe.

“The UK government really needs to step up its game on tree-planting and show that it is taking seriously the real threat to our very existence that climate change presents.”