The first deal brokered by world leaders at COP26 which pledges to end deforestation by 2030, has been welcomed by Highland Council.
The Highlands are home to some of the last remaining rainforests in Scotland including Ben Shieldaig in Wester Ross, Loch Arkaig pine forest in Lochaber and Uig Wood on the Isle of Skye.
These areas are known for their natural beauty, diverse ecosystem and varied biodiversity and are rare due to their coastal temperate climate.
The council is part of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforests, which comprises 20 organisations that are committed to protecting areas of rare rainforest in Scotland.
The Woodland Trust is responsible for five areas of rainforest on Scotland’s west coast and is investing in the expansion and preservation of these areas.
Chairwoman of Highland Council’s climate change working group, Trish Robertson, said: “Only 30,000 hectares of rainforest habitat remains in Scotland, mostly in small woodlands such as those in Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross. But these are not large enough to be self-sustainable, we need to help.
“Highland Council is a key partner of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforests, given that most of them are found within our region.
“We absolutely welcome today’s pledge by world leaders to end deforestation by 2030 and we will fully support our partners and the Scottish Government to enhance our existing forests and continue their growth elsewhere. Highland is home to some of the most stunning woodland in the UK and we must look after it.”
More than 100 leaders signed the first major deal of COP26 including Brazil where the majority of the country is covered in the Amazon rainforest.
‘Forests and woodlands have a crucial role in reversing the effects of climate change’
Under Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current president, deforestation in the Amazon reached a 12-year high in 2020.
Currently, an area of forest the size of 27 football pitches is lost every minute which is contributing to climate change as trees absorb carbon emissions.
As part of the £550 million investment into the natural economy, the Scottish Government will expand and restore the country’s natural green spaces as a response to the climate emergency.
Environment minister, Mairi McAllan, said: “Scotland is home to its own Atlantic rainforest boasting a variety of rare species and habitats. We want to protect and expand this precious environment and we have committed to do so in the life of this Parliament.
“I welcome the Glasgow Declaration’s strategic vision which recognises that forests and woodlands have a crucial role in reversing the effects of climate change and nature loss.
“As an active global citizen, Scotland is playing its role with world-leading ambitions in reaching net zero by 2045, five years before the rest of the UK.”
“We have increased our new woodland creation targets from 12,000 hectares a year to 18,000 hectares by 2024/5. By then, we will be planting 36 million new trees every year in Scotland.”
Scotland’s forests and woodlands absorb around 6.2 million tonnes of CO2 every year which is equivalent to almost 10% of Scotland’s gross greenhouse gas emissions.
Follow our coverage of the COP26 conference HERE.