Wednesday 30 October 2019

Good news on global warming and climate change.... if we plant more trees!

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, gave us some good news in  the July edition of it's journal, Science.

Global mapping of the earth's tree growing potential has shown  we could restore 4.4 billion hectares  (10.6 billion acres) of woodland worldwide, outside of existing forests and agricultural land. The global tree restoration potential, Bastin, Science, 365, No. 6448, pp. 76-79

This would increase the global forest area by more than 25 per cent storing over 200 giga tonnes of carbon over it's lifetime and 25 percent of  the current pool of atmospheric carbon.  Read the abstract here

A remnant of the Caledonian Pine Forest
In Scotland , in 2017, we had a review of our national forest strategy 2019 - 2029. About 18 per cent of our land area is covered by trees  and a further 12 per cent is capable of growing trees without  taking any prime farmland. This compares with an average  37 per cent tree cover in the countries of the European Union .

The Scottish government has set a planting target of 15,000 ha per annum until 2024/25. Two thirds of our forests are privately owned  and one third is owned by the government through Forestry Scotland formerly the Forestry Commission. Scotland's Forestry Strategy 2019 -2029

The Scottish "Crofting Counties"  cover some 750,000 hectares of land, crofts are smallholdings where the farming family earns most of the household income off the croft and many of them would welcome the opportunity to plant trees.

 It costs around £5,000 per hectare to fence, plant and establish trees, large landowners have the resources to do this and at the end of the day are presented with a valuable capital asset because the whole cost is grant aided by the taxpayer. It is not the capital cost itself that deters Crofters from planting it is their lack of capital to pay for the project over two or three years until the grant is paid. they cannot afford to do it.

If the Scottish government are serious about their ambitious planting targets they need to introduce bridging loans for smaller forestry projects. Once the trees are fenced and planted the loan would be recovered from the grant. Investment in trees would no longer be only available to the wealthy as socialism for rich landowners.

Scotland: Too many deer... too few trees
Deer fencing  comprises up to 50% of the cost of tree establishment, without fencing the trees are rapidly destroyed by marauding deer, we have an estimated 350 - 400,000 red deer in the highlands. Without them or with much lower numbers tree planting would be much cheaper and natural regeneration possible in many areas.

Please bear in mind that this report in the journal Science is based on real science using rigorous methodology, peer review and the results published in a prestigious journal of international standing.

It is not the deluded Twitter ramblings of a climate change denying politician or the propaganda of a so called, "think tank" paid for by business corporations or oligarchs ( you know who they are).

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