Figures released on Wednesday show that 7,100 hectares (ha) of new woodland was planted in Scotland during 2017/18, a rise of 2,300ha from the previous year. This means that Scotland was responsible for 78 per cent of new woodland creation in the UK last year.

Around 60 per cent is "productive planting" - specifically aimed at growing sustainable timber. This is the highest level since 2000, and, according to CONFOR (Confederation of Forest Industries), is crucial in supporting the sustainable growth of Scotland's home-grown timber processors, who have been investing heavily in recent years in places such as the extended Norbord plant at Dalcross near Inverness.

The new planting figure would have been higher but extreme weather delayed over 800ha of planting until later in the year, too late to be included in the reporting period.

In spite of this large rise, the annual target of planting 10,000ha each year has not been reached. However, plans and approvals already made for more tree planting in 2018 suggest that figures will be higher still for the current year.

Already, over 9,000ha of private sector schemes have been approved for 2018 and Forest Enterprise Scotland expects to create around 650ha on the National Forest Estate. A further 2,500ha of schemes have been submitted to Forestry Commission Scotland for consideration.

The year-long McKinnon review of the tree planting approval process was carried out last year resulting in a streamlining of the procedures. Combined with an improved Forestry Grants Scheme, the conditions for planting of all types of woodland have been greatly improved.

The current 10,000ha a year woodland creation target remains until 2020-2021 when there will be a stepped increase to 15,000ha by 2024-2025.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold a couple of prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 239p per kg and an average of 231p.

In the rough ring 13 beef cows averaged 152.5p and 37 dairy cows levelled at 127.9p.

There were also 314 prime hoggs forward that sold to £107.50 per head and 215p per kg to average 158p (-35p on the week), while 194 prime lambs peaked at £122 and 291p to level at 250.2p (-11.8p).

A nice show of 316 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £135.50 for Texels and average £86, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £74.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £50.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 493 prime lambs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £130 and 275p to average £107.65 and 250.2p (-12.5p).

The 58 cast sheep forward saw ewes sell to £144 for Texels and £60 for Blackfaces.