A TREE planting project in the Highlands is to help a Scottish investment company go carbon neutral.

The scheme will involve planting more than 1.5 million trees around the Cairngorms mountains range as part of a 1,440 hectare woodland and peatland restoration project.

An investment company operated by Edinburgh-based fund manager Aberdeen Standard Investments said it had acquired “a significant area of land” in the Cairngorms National Park as part of a wider strategy to achieve net zero.

Set up by the Scottish parliament in 2003, the Cairngorms National Park is the largest of a family of national parks in the UK. It includes the largest area of native woodland in Britain, a quarter of Britain’s rare and endangered species and the nation’s highest and most extensive mountain range.

Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust has £450 million of real estate investments in its portfolio and said it hoped the ecological restoration project could deliver a “raft of benefits” beyond removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees help to cool the planet by removing CO2 from the air and locking it away as they grow.

“Focusing on native broadleaf and Scots pine, the woodland creation element of the project will improve amenity, enhance biodiversity, mitigate flooding and improve air quality, while restoring the drained peatlands,” the company said.

It added that the land acquired had been under traditional sporting management for red grouse and deer shooting. But in recent years, the red deer and stag numbers had dropped significantly and there has been no hill sheep grazing.

Two Fife businesses – Kirkcaldy-based KF Forestry and tree seedling specialist, Kilrie Trees, also based in Kirkcaldy, are working with Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust on the project.

Between 50 to 100 people are expected to be involved in woodland creation and peatland restoration over the next six years, the partners said.

“Kilrie Trees has already begun seed collection from the site to ensure the establishment and provenance of the woodland,” Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust said.