Scotland’s national tree planting targets have been “smashed”.
The nation’s Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said new planting was undertaken across 11,200 hectares in 2018, significantly surpassing the 10,000 hectare annual target.
The previous year, just 7,100 hectares of new trees were planted.
In his announcement, he stressed that tree planting makes a “critical contribution” to tackling the global climate emergency and noted 84% of all new planting across the UK last year took place in Scotland.
Around 3,900 hectares of new native broadleaf trees were planted, making up around 40% of all new planting in Scotland and meeting commitments for new native woodland creation.
The Scottish Government planted around 1,000 hectares, with the remaining 10,200 hectares being planted by a range of private forestry interests.
It says the increase in planting will help fight climate change as the trees absorb “substantial amounts” of carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.
Mr Ewing said: “This is fantastic news that we’ve smashed the targets. It is testament to the Scottish Government making forestry a priority and investing and helping growing the industry.
“In Scotland alone, around 9.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year are removed from the atmosphere by our forests – this is a clear example of why an increase in tree planting is so important in the fight against climate change.”