A “glut” of tree seeds harvested this year could help Scotland meet climate change targets for years to come, forestry bosses have said.
Demand for young trees across the country has more than doubled in the last decade and should double again within the next five years.
Trees are being planted to help meet climate change commitments made by the Scottish Government – and this means the most has to be made of this bumper year for cones and seeds.
It is thought the Sitka spruce seed waiting to be collected in Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) seed orchards this season could be worth more than £2million.
Cones are gathered from the forest floor and then seeds can be extracted and stored until needed.
The FLS said a high yield in good years will be necessary if the country’s £1billion forestry industry is to continue to thrive.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing joined cone gathers at the Ledmore seed orchard by Lairg in Sutherland yesterday.
The Inverness and Nairn MSP said: “Everyone knows that the most effective response to tackling the climate emergency is to plant more trees – and Scotland is leading the way for the UK.
“This has been a very good year for seed production from all of the main forestry species. With woodland creation now a crucial and critical element in Scotland’s environmental and economic well-being, it is vital that we make best use of this valuable resource.
“Building as large a reserve of seeds as possible is the first step in being able to meet our planned, increased planting targets in the years ahead.”
Head of technical services with FLS Doug Knox added: “This year’s glut of cones is a great help.”