A new Forestry and Woodland Strategy for Glasgow City Region is set to boost the number of trees in the area by a further 18 million over the next 10 years.
Currently the Region’s forests and woodlands cover around 60,000 hectares, but the strategy highlights that a further 9,000 hectares could be planted. This could result in 21% of Glasgow City Region’s land area covered with a variety of trees by 2030. With more tree planting, the Region has an opportunity to boost its efforts in tackling climate change, a factor to be highlighted on an international level with COP26 being held in Glasgow this November.
The strategy has been developed by all eight local authorities within Glasgow City Region, Scottish Forestry, NatureScot and Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership. It sets out a positive woodland expansion vision for the next 10 years.
Councillor Vaughan Moody, Land Use and Sustainability Lead for Glasgow City Region said: “Glasgow City Region recognises the value of additional tree planting as part of its Green Recovery response to the current pandemic as well as their value as part of the City Regions’ response to addressing the challenges of climate change. The Forestry and Woodland Strategy will also prove a catalyst for improving the quality of the environment of local communities and the City Region looks forward to working with stakeholders to delivering the Strategy.”
The strategy is aimed at those involved in planning, managing and developing forestry and greenspace, in the public, rural and commercial sectors. Any woodland manager wishing to plant trees, or apply for forestry grants in the future, will now be able to use the new woodland strategy to identify potential locations where forestry expansion could take place in the Region.
Welcoming the new strategy, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The strategy is very welcome as it highlights the huge potential that trees can have in breathing new life into this vibrant region.
New woodlands have multiple benefits – they can support the environment, boost the economy and make a very tangible difference to the quality of life for the people living and working in the region. Indeed, the city of Glasgow is renowned for having more parks than any other in Britain thanks to the foresight of the leaders of the city in times gone by – a green legacy Glaswegians and visitors have enjoyed ever since. I look forward to our forestry agencies playing their part in helping this strategy come to life.”
By creating a greener and more attractive environment, woodlands can also act as an impetus for attracting investment into an area and helping to retain a skilled workforce.
Around 19,000 hectares of the Region’s trees are productive conifers and additional tree planting would help a healthy wood production and processing sector, aiding Scotland’s green recovery.
Keith Wishart at Scottish Forestry added: “This is an important strategy which sets out a long-term forestry and woodland vision, and one that we fully support. There is huge potential in growing the woodland resource here and Scottish Forestry is always ready to help advise on the forestry grants available to help landowners get more trees in the ground.”
Clydeplan Convenor, Councillor Lawrence O’Neill stated: “The Clydeplan Joint Committee have been delighted to work with Scottish Forestry to prepare the first Forestry and Woodland Strategy in Scotland under the terms of the new Planning (Scotland) Act. The Strategy provides both the policy context to support forestry and woodland planting and management across Glasgow City Region as well as broad strategic locational guidance and environmental advice to those seeking to expand or manage forestry and woodlands.”
Woodlands and greenspace are also key in turning around the quality of life for communities. Attractive and accessible woodlands encourage people to get outdoors and exercise or simply enjoy nature.
The current COVID pandemic has seen an upsurge in people enjoying woodlands and connecting with nature and improving their mental health too. The strategy pinpoints the need to build on existing links with communities and cites Castlemilk Woodlands as a good example where local people have been heavily involved in transforming their greenspace for the better.
The Scottish Government recognises the contribution trees can make in tackling climate change, boosting the economy and improving healthier lifestyles. The government’s national targets have risen with the aim of planting 18,000 hectares of new woodland across Scotland by 2024/5.