RE James Fenton’s excellent letter (September 3) on woodland: the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions requires informed strategies. Policies formulated on ill-informed opinions, or incomplete knowledge are just as great a risk to our future as carbon emissions.

Everything we humans do has an impact that, through ignorance, can have unforeseen negative results. Encouraging forestry plantations in the Flow Country is an example, which retrospectively, we now know was extremely ill-advised government policy. We have not learnt any lessons from this.

A current example of this muddled thinking is giving planning consents to building wind farms on wild uplands in the Highlands of Scotland and the lack of legislation to control the proliferation of hill tracks, whether for sporting estates or small-scale hydro schemes. The resulting damage to the deep peat cover will, over time, release huge amounts of carbon. There is irony in this too; we express our concern at deforestation of the Amazon and at the same time condone activities which destroy our peatlands. Peat is different; it locks up carbon permanently. Trees, whether in the Amazon or in Scotland, only recycle carbon. Understanding this difference is crucial.

The Scottish Government could be accused of hypocrisy if they condemn deforestation in Brazil while permitting destruction of peatland in Scotland.

Encouraging the regeneration of native woodland in areas where it existed previous to human intervention is entirely appropriate. Natural woodland occurs on well-drained land where peat is not a significant feature.

Norman McNab, Killearn.