SCOTTISH BORDERS environmental charity, the Tweed Forum, has planted one million trees over the last decade.

In terms of carbon capture, it is estimated that these trees will store over 250,000 tonnes of the element over their lifetime, equal to the emissions produced by 35,000 return flights to Australia.

Tree-planting is an important part of the Forum's catchment management approach to protecting and conserving the 5000 sq km area surrounding the Tweed and its tributaries, where it works closely with farmers and land owners to design schemes that work for them as well as the environment. Some of the major tree-planting projects currently underway include areas on the Teviot above Hawick and the Gala and Leader Waters. Once established, during heavy rain the trees should help slow water runoff and absorb excess water which will help to lessen downstream flooding.

Tweed Forum is also planting trees on the Oxnam Water, one of a number of streams identified by the local fisheries trust where trout and salmon, which are particularly susceptible to high temperatures, can suffer and die in hot dry summers. In those conditions, water flows disappear first from the headwater streams inhabited by juvenile fish, but trees planted on riverbanks can cast shade that helps to lower water temperatures significantly and conserve fish stocks.

The organisation is also encouraging consumers to use its 'Carbon Club' scheme to offset their own carbon footprint. Certified under the government-backed Woodland Carbon Code, this scheme plants trees only in the Scottish Borders and north Northumberland where, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and offsetting the donor’s everyday carbon emissions, the newly planted trees also enhance the biodiversity, water quality and beauty of the countryside.

Tweed Forum director, Luke Comins, said: “Our aim is always to get trees in the right place at the right scale that make a real difference. From carbon dioxide absorption and natural flood management, to helping protect fish stocks in the face of climate change, our tree planting projects are targeted to deal with priority issues and deliver multiple benefits for the Borders and beyond.

"This is an extremely important element of our work but we can make an even bigger difference if consumers offset their own CO2 emissions through our Carbon Club scheme. Their contributions will be spent on trees right here in the Scottish Borders which will help to mitigate climate change and make the region an even more beautiful place to live and work.”