During the recent UK Election political parties threw themselves into a bidding war over who would plant the most trees in order to avoid Climate Catastrophe.
In the race to grab headlines and outdo each other, the complexity of our living biome was reduced to a number.
In my bioregion of the Scottish west coast there are at least four measures that are more important.
One, we need a programme of deer management that brings the population down sufficient for natural regeneration to take place. Once this happens, areas currently covered in bracken will turn to scrubland and, eventually, to woodland (the photograph – of sika hinds – was taken with an infra-red camera in Ferry Wood)
Two, we need to protect existing native woodlands from sheep and goat browsing.
Three, all areas of peatland should be restored (currently 80 per cent are in need of this).
Four, the current plantation forestry practice of clear-fell should be changed to one of continuous cover forestry.
There is a role for tree planting, especially to supplement measures 1 and 2, and also in areas where there is no existing seed source, but it needs to be part of an overall strategy, not an end in itself.
The above doesn’t make for a good soundbite, but it’s what is necessary if we are to genuinely manage our landscapes to sequester carbon.