NEW research has found that mass tree-planting can boost Scotland’s economy as well as help mitigate the climate crisis.

A study by academics at Queens University in Belfast has revealed that as well as helping protect the environment, a push to plant more trees could contribute £366 million to the UK economy.

The report adds that 36,000 jobs could be created by expanding woodlands – including 2,250 jobs in the Glasgow area.

The document stresses that a programme of tree-planting will “provide direct benefits for an environment under threat from unsustainable economic activity, while providing significant economic benefits and opportunities in the process".

But the study found that curating and restoring peatlands “are less employment intensive as an investment”, but added that “the economic and social benefits by way of return on investment are significant”.

READ MORE: SNP under pressure for 'overwhelming failure' in renewable energy progress

The report concludes that a conservative estimate of the economic benefit of a tree ranges from £1,200 to £8,000. Using this model, planting 6,000 trees strategically located across a large town would provide benefits of £48 million over 50 years, or nearly £1 million per year.

The Scottish Government's climate change plan update stresses the need to "find more space for trees, peatland and nature to thrive".

READ MORE: Scots ‘should set new aim of planting 1bn trees'

The blueprint adds that by 2045, when Scotland is aiming to be net zero, the country will be "internationally recognised for its woodland and peatland restoration achievements and potential, attracting investors from international and domestic business organisations who want to play their part in delivering a more sustainable future."

The Scottish Government's statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), has suggested that around one fifth of agricultural land in Scotland will need to change use in order for the nation to become carbon net zero, including using farmland to plant trees.

Authorities in the Glasgow City Region are planning to create an urban forest to connect woodlands across the area.

READ MORE: COP26: Greater Glasgow's bid to plant 18million trees in 10 years

The Clyde Climate Forest aims to plant 18 million trees – 10 trees for every person in the region over the next decade. This will increase the woodland cover in the region from 17% to 20% and support Glasgow, which is hosting the COP26 summit in November, to meet its target of becoming a net zero carbon city by 2030.

The study believes the woodland plans would create 2,250 new jobs in Glasgow.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the city region cabinet, said: “The value of high quality green spaces to exercise and clear the mind has been acutely felt during the pandemic and, this year, we have a once in a generation opportunity to deliver on our climate ambitions and secure a green recovery.

“We have to ensure the economic, ecological and social benefits are felt by all. More street trees and planting new woodland bring huge benefits to our community - not just in terms of wellbeing, but in jobs and a boost to business.”

Council bosses in Edinburgh have committed to the capital being home to one million trees by 2030.

Edinburgh already outstrips other Scottish cities by having more trees per head of population - there are currently more than 730,000 urban trees, compared to around 519,000 residents.

READ MORE: More power 'needed for city regions for Scotland to hit climate aims

Depute leader of Edinburgh City Council, Cammy Day, said: “Edinburgh is already enormously proud to be the UK’s greenest city, with more trees than people, high quality green spaces and more green flag awards for our parks than any other Scottish local authority.

“We were the first Scottish council to support the Charter for Trees back in 2019 and through our Million Tree City initiative, to be formally launched this October, we will be planting a further 250,000 trees over the next decade, to add to the 750,000 we have already.

“We want to make sure everyone across the city can benefit from the positive impact of trees – cutting carbon emissions, helping clean the air we breathe, preventing flooding, improving wellbeing and creating good green jobs.

“As we continue to support the Capital through and out of this dreadful pandemic, securing a robust and green economic recovery is an absolute priority for the Council and our partners.

"By joining other global cities as a Million Tree City we’ll also help Edinburgh work towards our net zero 2030 target and make the UK’s greenest city an even greener place to leave for future generations.”