The Scots pine as our official tree – perfect ("Scots pine branching out to be symbol of the nation", The Herald, January 7).
Not only is it beautiful, rugged and long-lived, (though now reduced to a tiny percentage of its original coverage in places like Loch Tulla and Glen Falloch), but it is host to iconic Scottish species such as the red squirrel, crested tit, capercaillie and to the Scottish crossbill, a bird unique to Scotland and to the Caledonian forest.
The golden eagle is perfect as our national bird, and if we ever get fed up with the jagginess of the thistle, we have our own uniquely Scottish primrose. I can be accused of prejudice, as a sprig of pine was the badge of clan Macgregor, but I still say "Hurrah for Pinus sylvestris". Let's have it.
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Life member, RSPB Scottish Wildlife Trust and John Muir Trust,
16 Holyrood Crescent, Glasgow.
THE pines in your report seem to be lodge pole pines, from North America, so called due to their use as native American teepee or lodge poles, harvested as younger trees and valued for this use due to their straightness. The cartoon on page 13 is erroneous, depicting a similar tree with straight perpendicular trunk. Scots pines are, as you report, the main species in the treasured remnants of the Caledonian Forest, found on Deeside, Speyside and Glen Affric, but many areas of the ancient forest of Caledon were damaged by interplanting of their North American cousins during the war for emergency timber supply.
The Scots pine is a swarthy, muscular, contorted tree designed to stand fast against, for example the howling winds blasting down Glen Feshie or Glen Derry.
J D Moir,