Assess forestry carbon and nature benefits
Forestry applications over 20 hectares should be required to specify the net carbon sequestration they will achieve over their lifespan, and demonstrate biodiversity net gain.
The current system for afforestation is very much developer-led, with land owners approaching Forestry Scotland with proposals for approval and grant assistance. The current scheme is attractive to investors, with a combination of planting grants, maintenance of basic payments and favourable tax treatment of the timber crop.
New tree and woodland cover deployed on farms and crofts as part of a climate change mitigation plan must take account of the long-term storage of carbon and opt for species and uses that optimise this – and be sensitive to other priorities such as biodiversity, landscape, climate adaptation and community benefit.
Unwise planting of trees on peatlands can wipe out the supposed carbon benefits of the growing trees.247
Some tree-planting schemes may result in a net loss of biodiversity as there is currently no requirement to undertake a biodiversity assessment of the site for smaller schemes.
For further information:
- Farming for 1.5: from here to 2045, 2021, https://www.farming1point5.org/reports
Ecological Impacts of Forestry on Peatlands, IUCN UK Committee Pealtands Programme, 2014 https://www.iucn-uk-peatlandprogramme. org/sites/default/files/2019-05/4%20Forestry%20final%20-%205th%20November%202014.pdf