IN Mexico they know the value of tree-planting programmes. The country’s president, Manuel López Obrador, has an ambitious project to plant trees on one million hectares of land over the next three years. The aim is to create 200,000 jobs this year.

It’s not just Mexico. The government in Fiji has launched a ‘4Million Trees in 4 Years’ initiative; in Libya, the extent of desertification has prompted a scheme to plant 25,000 trees by year’s end.

Tree-planting schemes can also, of course, also help in the crucial fight against climate change. As the Committee on Climate Change, the Westminster government’s advisers on the subject, recommended recently, tree planting must double by 2020 in order to increase the volume of carbon stored in forests and land.

There is much to commend in the drive to create urban forests in Scotland’s post-industrial gap-sites. There some 12,000 hectares of derelict or vacant land across or towns and cities, and they are rarely easy on the eye, but the aesthetic aspect of the plan, though important, is not the main reason for thinking the project worthwhile.

As Glasgow City Council says, urban woodland would encourage biodiversity, help with carbon reduction and with managing flood risk, absorb some of the noise of everyday city activity, and re-purpose derelict land for leisure and recreation. The Woodland Trust says for good measure that urban trees have considerable benefits for our health and wellbeing. “We breathe easier and think happier with trees nearby,” it adds.

The Scottish Government is currently absorbing the responses to its 10-year forestry strategy consultation. Introducing the paper last September, the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, wrote of the benefits of forests and woodlands, including their economic contributions and their ability to stimulate children to learn and thrive.

It’s disarmingly easy to overlook the benefits that trees confer on us. This drive towards urban forests is a sound idea that deserves to succeed.