January 3, 2019

Are these the forests Scotland needs?

Emma Gray


Scotland has ambitious afforestation targets set to increase to 15,000ha. With this, we have to ask ourselves what sort of forest meets our needs as a country. Timber demand is ever on the increase and currently we are a large net importer of forest products, primarily that derived from coniferous trees. With uncertain times ahead and ever-growing environmental concern we may not be able to import such large quantities and instead depend entirely on UK grown material. Additionally, we endeavour to increase biodiversity and restore native habitats, therefore pushing for areas of low density native broadleaf and open habitat; seeking to mimic the land as it once was before humankind arrive. These silver birch trees are an example of species found in a native broadleaf habitat. They improve soil quality and provide a habitat for many insects and mosses; however are very rarely grown to a value of more than firewood in Scotland.
But what do the people of Scotland think? Realising forests are diverse ecosystems and constantly a balance between nature and industry? Can the productive (and also ecologically significant) conifer coexist with the native woodland? Can we grow these birch trees to more than firewood?


Native on Natural
Oil on jute, 50x40cm
Unprimed jute canvas, reference to Scotland’s industrial past in jute production.