Planting trees is known to be one of the most effective ways of tackling carbon dioxide emissions but they can also act as flood defences and help conserve fish stocks.

One Scottish charity continues to make strides as it celebrates planting its 1 millionth tree since 2010.

As part of its catchment management initiative Scottish Borders charity Tweed Forum has been working towards improving the regional environment for almost two decades.

Tree-planting is an important part of the organisation’s approach to protecting and conserving the 5,000 sq km area surrounding the River Tweed and its tributaries, as it works closely with farmers and land owners to design schemes that work for them as well as the environment.

Some of the major tree-planting projects currently underway include areas on the Teviot above Hawick and the Gala and Leader Waters. Once established, during heavy rain the trees will help to slow water runoff and absorb excess water which will help to lessen downstream flooding.

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Tweed Forum is also planting trees on the Oxnam Water, one of a number of streams identified by the local fisheries trust where trout and salmon, which are particularly susceptible to high temperatures, can suffer and die in hot dry summers. In those conditions, water flows disappear first from the headwater streams inhabited by juvenile fish, but trees planted on riverbanks can cast shade that helps to lower water temperatures significantly and conserve fish stocks.

In terms of carbon capture, it is estimated that the trees will store over 250,000 tonnes of carbon over their lifetime, equal to the emissions produced by 35,000 return flights to Sydney, Australia or by driving a car at 50mph for 1.5 billion miles.

The charity also runs a Carbon Club scheme that invites people to offset their own carbon footprint by creating new native woodland in the Tweed catchment.

The scheme is certified under the government-backed Woodland Carbon Code and plants trees only in the Scottish Borders and north Northumberland where, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and offsetting the donor’s everyday carbon emissions, the newly planted trees also enhance the biodiversity, water quality and beauty of the countryside.

The charity's director Luke Comins, said; “Our aim is always to get trees in the right place at the right scale that make a real difference. From carbon dioxide absorption and natural flood management, to helping protect fish stocks in the face of climate change, our tree planting projects are targeted to deal with priority issues and deliver multiple benefits for the Borders and beyond. This is an extremely important element of our work but we can make an even bigger difference if consumers offset their own CO2 emissions through our Carbon Club scheme. Their contributions will be spent on trees in the Scottish Borders which will help to mitigate climate change and make the region an even more beautiful place to live and work.”

The Scottish Government has ambitious targets to create 12,000 to 15,000 hectares of new woodland annually until 2032 with the aim that the expansion will provide diverse habitats for wildlife, carbon sequestration and a stronger economy.

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New data this month revealed that Scotland has a third more native woodland than previously thought.

The Woodland Ecological Condition study by the National Forest Inventory (NFI) showed that 442,611 hectares are now classified as native woodland - an increase of 131,458 hectares on the previous estimate reported in the 2014 Native Woodland Survey of Scotland.

Experts said that the majority of this was in the North East and West of Scotland.

In 2019 Scotland planted 4436 hectares of native woodland.

The statistics reveal that over 430,000 hectares of these native woodlands are in overall "favourable" or "intermediate" condition.

They also show that Scotland's non-native woodlands make an ecological contribution, with less than 6% in "unfavourable" ecological condition.

Last year it was reported that woodland cover in Scotland was at 19%.

Writing in The Herald Francesca Osowska, chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, said that "improving the state of Scotland's nature is our best insurance against climate change."

She added: Simply put, conserving and restoring our biodiversity is critical to solving the climate-change emergency."