The Cooperation Agreement has set ambitious woodland creation targets – 18,000 hectares per year by 2024/25. Much of this will be in the Highlands, being the region with most capacity to reach those targets. We want to see the Highlands as a beacon of reforesting, both for environmental restoration and sustainable economic activity. The benefits for the region, if done in the right way, could be huge and long-term.
There could be a wealth of green, sustainable jobs, proven carbon sequestration, improved biodiversity, and the opportunity for everyone in the Highlands to enjoy the physical and mental health advantages of easy access to high-quality forests and woodlands.
We must urgently consider ways to control the use of the Highlands for big business to plant trees to avoid having to do anything about its own carbon emissions. Carbon credits for rewilding must benefit local people, not just big landowners. The people working the land - as crofters, farmers, gamekeepers - have generations of experience and must help shape the future.
Green Councillors will work to;·
Support the expansion of woodland creation, while ensuring it benefits rather than excludes communities, and enriches biodiversity.
Champion the planting of diverse native tree species to increase resilience to disease and the effects of climate change.
Support forestry practices which create sustainable craft jobs, producing high quality pieces of work. Highland woodwork could be a mark of high quality.
Increase the number of publicly-owned forests and community woodlands. Priorities are access, nature restoration and protection, along with public health and mental health benefits.
Support the rollout of the National Register of Ancient Woodlands. Set out in the Cooperation Agreement, this will encourage owners and managers of ancient woodland to maintain them and improve their condition, providing support through the Forestry Grant Scheme.
People as part of nature: ”rewilding” where it brings people back into the landscape, not where it creates exclusive preserves for the wealthy.