More than 22 million trees were planted in Scotland last year to help combat the global climate emergency.
The planted trees cover 11,200 hectares of countryside, with more planted in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.
England fell significantly short of its targets, planting just 1,420 hectares of woodland in 2018, despite a target of 5,000 hectares being set.
While the overall figures for the UK have increased, that success is down to large increases in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Woodland Trust said, as per The Independent.
The percentage of woodland cover in the UK remains at 13 per cent; England has 10 per cent, while Wales and Scotland have 15 and 19 per cent respectively.
To break it down, the number of trees planted in Scotland now represents 84 per cent of the UK total.
All of this is part of the country’s effort to battle climate change, with the increased number of trees being described as a ‘critical contribution to the global climate emergency’.
Why? Because as humans emit roughly 30 to 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere each year, we need a way to get some of that CO2 out of the atmosphere. Otherwise, Earth will continue to heat up.
Hence, planting trees – which use CO2 in photosynthesis to grow, releasing oxygen as a byproduct – is seen to help reverse the situation we’ve found ourselves in.
And the efforts don’t stop there; a target of 15,000 hectares a year is set to be in place from 2024 to 2025.
Abi Bunker from the Woodland Trust said of the latest figures, as per The Independent:
The UK needs renewed ambition when it comes to tree planting and woodland expansion. The scale of what needs to be achieved to reach net zero targets is obvious; it will necessitate a three-fold increase on current levels.
Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future.
To avoid climate breakdown we have to act; that’s the reality we live in – tough choices, big challenges – but we can all rise to meet it head on.
However, it’s important to note there’s now so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees alone can no longer save us.
As reported by Business Insider, studies indicate we simply can’t grow enough trees to get the necessary amount of CO2 out of our atmosphere. In fact, we’d have to cover the entire US with trees just to capture 10 per cent of the CO2 we emit annually.
As such, there’s just not enough room on the planet to plant the necessary amount of trees, no matter how many of our targets we conquer.
We all therefore need to address other parts of our lifestyles – such as plastic pollution – as opposed to relying on trees to solve the emissions problem.
Otherwise, we’re going to have to face the inevitability of severe consequences.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).