A NEW woodland survey has evidenced strong support for more woodland planting in Highlands.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), which is looking to expand national forests in the region, commissioned the survey and asked 1000 people what they thought.

Key findings showed that more than 80% agreed the Highlands should be reforested and more than 78% of people think that more should be done to support biodiversity in the region.

More than 90% of respondents said they supported productive forestry as a way to mitigate climate change and for Scotland to become more self-sufficient in timber production.

The Highlands are home to approximately 350,000 hectares of forestry, representing around 13.5% of the land area.

Between 40-50% of this woodland is managed by FLS, with the area producing some 500,000 tonnes of timber each year, to be used in housebuilding, fencing, pallets and numerous other uses.

Forestry is one of the nature-oriented solutions, alongside peatland restoration, that FLS is employing to help mitigate the climate emergency and to contribute to the national effort to reduce nature loss.

Through partnership projects, FLS is working to restore populations of many endangered or threatened animals and plants; including capercaillie, white-tailed eagles, wildcats, water voles, and twin flowers.

Graeme Prest, Forestry and Land Scotland north region manager, said, “There is strong support in Scotland for increasing the amount of timber we grow here by planting more forests, to make us less dependent on timber imports from abroad – and to support biodiversity. It’s about planting the right tree in the right place.

“Some of Scotland’s endangered and iconic species such as red squirrels, ospreys, hen harriers and pine marten do especially well in productive forests.

“We have received £30 million from the Scottish Government to buy more land to plant more publicly owned forests and woodlands.”

He added: “This will enable us to increase our tree planting effort by 20% by 2024/25, helping to meet the Government’s ambitious net-zero targets.”

Woodland land cover has increased from 9.2% to 13.5% of the land area since 1980, but there is potential for more land to be used for forestry.