A recent survery conducted by Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) found that the majority of people are in support of adding to the forested land in the Highlands.
FLS surveyed 1,000 people to find out their attitudes towards how important natural spaces are to Scotland and what should be done to protect and expand them.
A key finding of the survey was that 80% of people asked strongly supported an initiative to reforest the Highlands.
Currently, forests and woodlands cover an area of 1.45 million hectares in Scotland, making it the most forested of the four home nations.
The survey also found that 78% of people felt that more should be done to support biodiversity in the Highlands.
While more could be done, the Scottish Highlands is already the most biodiverse region in the UK with no fewer than 16,273 distinct types of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms.
Reforestation will enlarge several species’ habitats that have been diminished due to urbanisation, deforestation and extreme weather.
Storm Arwen destroyed over eight million trees across the Highlands and the north-east in November.
More than 90% of respondents said they supported productive forestry as a way to mitigate climate change and for Scotland to become more self-sufficient in timber production
‘It’s about planting the right tree in the right place’
Forests in the Highlands currently make up around 13.5% of the total land area or around 350,000 hectares.
FLS manages between 40-50% of this land and uses it to produce over 500,000 tonnes of timber which is used mainly in construction.
Graeme Prest, FLS North Region manager, said: “There is strong support in Scotland for increasing the amount of timber we grow here by planting more forests, to make us less dependent on timber imports from abroad – and to support biodiversity.
“Some of Scotland’s endangered and iconic species such as red squirrels, ospreys, hen harriers and pine marten do especially well in productive forests.
“We have received £30million from the Scottish Government to buy more land to plant more publicly owned forests and woodlands.
“This will enable us to increase our tree planting effort by 20% by 2024/25, helping to meet the Government’s ambitious net zero targets.
“The Highlands will play a key role in helping us meet this target.”