14 February 2024
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New Fife woodland boosts biodiversity and captures carbon14 February 2024
Creating woodland for biodiversity
Creating a new woodland in the Lomond Hills, above West Feal Reservoir
“As a publicly owned utility with a lot of land, we have a duty to support biodiversity in Scotland which can also help capture carbon in natural ways to support our net zero goals.”Dr Mark WIlliams
Climate Change Manager, Scottish Water
Scottish Water is creating a new woodland in the Lomond Hills, close to its Lomond Hills reservoir complex in Fife to capture up to 16,000 tonnes of carbon and boost biodiversity.
The publicly owned water company has planted 48,000 trees on 25 hectares of former grazing land, helping to improve biodiversity and capture thousands of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere, with farming being relocated to a more favourable part of its estate.
In a bid to recreate natural habitats which have been lost over recent centuries, native broadleaf trees including Oak, Alder, Hawthorn, Rowan and Birch have been planted across the hillside in an irregular pattern in contrast to the more traditional rows you would find in commercial forests.
Dr Mark Williams, Climate Change Manager at Scottish Water said: “As a publicly owned utility with a lot of land, we have a duty to support biodiversity in Scotland which can also help capture carbon in natural ways to support our net zero goals. We don’t have enough of this native, ancient type of woodland across Scotland and by delivering projects like this across suitable parts of our land, we can do our bit in helping to bring it back.
“The new woodland will capture a huge amount of carbon equating to around 8-10 tonnes per hectare on average every year over the next 60 or 70 years. At peak growth, in 15-45 years’ time, the maturing trees may capture as much as 20 tonnes per hectare per annum. Collectively, over 60 years, the site could capture over 16,000 tonnes of carbon.”
By selecting native, broadleaf trees the project will also contribute to the health of soils, improving soil moisture, depth and quality and the resilience of the landscape. This will not only ensure that the trees are not impacting on water resources, but it will also help protect the water quality in the Lomond Hills reservoirs. By slowing the movement of water over the land, the trees and improved soil will reduce the amount of material being washed off the hillside during heavy rain.
Stuart McArtney, Forest Manager at Bell Ingram said: “We have chosen to manage the scheme in the most environmental way possible, including reducing fuel use and minimising the use of plastics.
Fully biodegradable vole guards have been installed around the base of the trees which don’t need to be removed once the tree gets larger and they do not risk shedding microplastics into the environment.
Deer fences and rabbit netting has been installed to help protect the young trees. Not only will the scheme contribute to Scottish Water’s Net Zero ambitions, but it will be great for people and the environment.”
Scottish Water has pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and is constantly looking at opportunities to capture carbon and improve biodiversity on its land.