A glasshouse around the size of two football pitches and capable of growing up to 19 million trees a year will be constructed near Elgin.

The project, part of a major modernisation scheme by Forestry and Land Scotland, will see a 12000m2 glasshouse at the heart of the scheme, along with new offices and a new distribution and operations centre.

The organisation says that growing trees inside the glasshouse will allow the 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.

A 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.

The stock produced will be mostly conifer species such as Lodge Pole Pine, Scots Pine, Sitka, and Norway Spruce, which are key to 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 and 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 current capacity.

Alan Duncan head of plant and seed supply at Forestry and Land Scotland 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 to plant up to 1 million tree seedlings in a single day.”

The redevelopment is expected to be complete by early 2025.