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A new woodland strategy for Edinburgh and the Lothians could provide the impetus for up to 500,000 new trees being planted in the area each year.
Currently, woodland only covers around 13 per cent of Edinburgh and the Lothians. There are now plans to boost this low figure up to 19 per cent, which is even slightly higher than the national average.
Planting more trees can have a very positive impact on the quality of life of people living in urban Scotland and has other benefits like helping improve the air quality of Scotland's towns and cities.
A recent study found that in Edinburgh alone, its 600,000 trees soak up the equivalent annual carbon emissions of over 20,000 people. The capital’s trees also act as the city’s green lungs and remove about 100 tonnes each year of air borne pollutants that can affect human health.
Launching the new Edinburgh and Lothians Forestry & Woodland Strategy today, Environment & Climate Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“Across Scotland there is a target of planting 10,000 hectares of new woodland each year for the next ten years. The Edinburgh and Lothians strategy forms the local contribution to the national picture and aims to expand its woodlands by up to 250 hectares each year, which as a former resident of the city I very much welcome.
“The strategy is a bold one and seizes the opportunity to maximise the many benefits that tree planting brings. Improved biodiversity, tackling climate change, supporting a strong and sustainable economy and improving the quality of life for communities are just a few of the positives.
“There are significant opportunities for the area’s woodlands to be increased and this strategy clearly maps out how it should be achieved.”
All four councils in the Edinburgh and Lothians area, Lothians and Fife Green Network Partnership and Forestry Commission Scotland all joined together to produce the strategy.
The strategy runs from 2012 -17 and is designed to help deliver the vision of the Scottish Forestry Strategy at a regional level and allow local authorities to produce locally-focussed action plans.
Geoff Mather, Chairman of the Lothian and Fife Green Network Partnership said:
“On behalf of the Lothians and Fife Green Network Partnership, I welcome the production of the Edinburgh and Lothians Forestry and Woodland Strategy.
“It is an excellent example of the partnership working we have been fostering over the past few years. The strategy is ambitious and challenging and will be used to develop and steer ideas for new green network projects with a wide range of delivery partners throughout the Lothians.
“The Partnership is indebted to Forestry Commission Scotland for its generous support in funding the development and production of the strategy.”
Ian Angus, Strategic Development Plan Manager for the South East of Scotland Plan added:
'Increasing woodland planting in Edinburgh and the Lothians will help to create more healthy and attractive places to live, improve biodiversity and increase the competitiveness of the area. This strategy will help to ensure that these objectives are achieved. Increasing woodland areas, as part of a green network, will support the delivery of the development plan's vision for south east Scotland.'
The strategy can be found at http://lfgnp.org.uk/projects
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
2. For news, events and recreation information log on to www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests. For Twitter: www.twitter.com/fcscotland.
3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
5. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0131 314 6508.