THE COP26 deforestation deal is just the beginning to restore nature and must be followed by real action, the Scottish Greens have said.

More than 100 countries from Canada to Brazil have signed on to halt and reverse the effects of deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

The first milestone COP26 declaration was widely welcomed, but the Scottish Greens warned that the UK has a lot of work to do to meet targets and that Prime Minister Boris Johnson should lead by example.

The Scottish Government announced on Tuesday that it will restore and expand Scotland’s rare Atlantic rainforest as part of work to tackle the climate emergency.

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Meanwhile, Johnson called on delegates to “end this great chainsaw massacre” of the world’s forests.

Forests can help mitigate climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide, using carbon to produce sugars for tree growth and then releasing oxygen.

Carbon is stored in trees leaves, twigs, trunks and the soil around them as they grow.

As high levels of greenhouse gases are one of the causes pushing the planet towards reaching 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial levels, forests have a key part to play in how the world recovers.

Mark Ruskell, Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, said: “This is an urgently needed and necessary deal, and it is significant that Brazil has signed it, but it must be turned into action.

The National:

Forests can absorb carbon one of the greenhouse gasses which cause global warming

“The loss of the world’s forests has had a devastating impact on both carbon stores and wildlife, and previous declarations have not led to the action needed.

“The Scottish Greens in government have increased Scotland’s reforestation targets and will establish a National Register of Ancient Woodlands, but we need to see more than warm words from the UK Government.

“When just 7% of Britain's native woodlands are currently in good ecological condition, Boris Johnson must lead by example.”

It comes as the Scottish Government pledged to restore and support the country’s unique rainforest in Balmacara, Ross-shire.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said that supporting the site will be a key part of a £500 million investment in Scotland’s natural economy.

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McAllan said: “Scotland is home to its own Atlantic rainforest boasting a variety of rare species and habitats.

“We want to protect and expand this precious environment and we have committed to do so in the life of this Parliament.

“I welcome the Glasgow Declaration’s strategic vision which recognises that forests and woodlands have a crucial role in reversing the effects of climate change and nature loss.

“As an active global citizen, Scotland is playing its role with world-leading ambitions in reaching Net Zero by 2045, five years before the rest of the UK.”

The National:

McAllan, above, made the pledge on the second day of the summit

Scotland’s forests and woodlands also absorb around 6.2 million tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to almost 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU Commission also pledged €1 billion to protect forests. 

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Speaking to delegates on Tuesday afternoon, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “Working in partnership is essential, and it is in that context that I am pleased to announce that the Comission will provide one billion Euro to the Global Forest Pledge.

"And we’re very happy that 250 million of these will be specifically for the Congo Basin pledge, which is so important.”

The National:

Von der Leyen confirmed the EU will provide public funds

Meanwhile, Johnson said the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C cannot be achieved without protecting the natural environment and ending the “devastating” loss of forests which are the “lungs of our planet”.

He said it is essential to do so in a way that safeguards the rights of indigenous peoples while opening up opportunities for sustainable economic development.