Scotland has surpassed its targets for planting more trees across the country, official figures show.
According to Scottish Government statistics, 11,200 hectares of new planting was undertaken in Scotland last year – above the current annual target of 10,000 hectares.
The number of trees planted in Scotland also represents a total of 84% of all new planting across the UK.
With an increase in tree planting in the pipeline, it is now more important than ever to make sure the right trees are planted in the right placesFergus Ewing
Increasing the number of trees being planted is part of efforts to tackle climate change, with a target of 15,000 hectares a year set to be in place from 2024-25.
The Scottish Government contributed towards surpassing the planting targets, with around 1,000 hectares being planted by its agency Forestry and Land Scotland in 2018-19.
The remaining 10,200 hectares were planted by a range of private forestry interests.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing hailed the success of the scheme.
“This is fantastic news that we’ve smashed the targets,” said Mr Ewing.
“It is testament to the Scottish Government making forestry a priority and investing and helping growing the industry.
“The whole tree planting effort has truly been a national endeavour with all forestry interests, both large and small, pulling together.”
He added: “With an increase in tree planting in the pipeline, it is now more important than ever to make sure the right trees are planted in the right places.
“A new approach to woodland creation proposals was introduced last year and whilst this has helped us deliver the target, it also ensures that communities and interest groups are consulted along the way.
“But there is also a huge environmental significance to the increase in tree planting. We are now facing a global environment emergency.
“In Scotland alone, around 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 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.”
Carol Evans, of Woodland Trust Scotland, said the country is “ahead of the curve” on tree planting when compared to the rest of the UK.
“The urgency for action on climate change is starting to hit home,” she said.
“At the same time the role trees can play in soaking up carbon is also becoming more generally recognised.
“Scotland has been ahead of the curve on this compared to the rest of the UK and we are absolutely delighted that the planting targets have finally been met.
“We need to keep this momentum going. We need to both expand the area of Scotland’s woods and significantly improve the condition of the forest habitats we already have.”