In 2020 the Pebble Trust commissioned the Forest Policy Group to conduct a study on the impacts of forest practice on soil carbon. Tree planting and forestry are seen as positive ways of offsetting Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions because trees sequester carbon as they grow.
However the Scottish Government has encouraged an expansion of forestry in the Scottish uplands and large areas have been planted into peaty soils where much of Scotland’s carbon is stored. Many voices have raised concerns that disturbance of these soils during forestry operations – draining, cultivation, clearfell and restocking – can lead to greenhouse gas emissions and there is conflicting evidence of whether the trees might grow fast enough to offset this loss.
The report concludes that forestry could and should better contribute to the government’s Net Zero target by 2045 and that peaty soils could be treated with greater sensitivity and an appreciation of their role in long term carbon stores.
The report includes 10 key recommendations to government and the forest industry and can be viewed/downloaded below.