Afforestation and restocking on peaty soils

The Scottish Government’s ambition is to increase woodland cover in Scotland to 25% by the second half of the century. The Scottish Climate Change Plan (2017) has an ambition to increase from the current 18% to around 21% of woodland cover by 2032. This will make an important contribution to reducing Scotland’s net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

However, it is important to understand the consequences of forestry activity, given that approximately two-thirds of Scotland is covered by high carbon-content organic soils of varying depths, including nearly a quarter with deep peat soils

This report examines new evidence published since the Forest Research report ‘Understanding the GHG implications of forestry on peat soils in Scotland’ (Morison et al., 2010). The review broadly confirms the findings of the 2010 report. It remains probable that moderate and high productivity forests planted on shallower peat soils with limited disturbance provide a substantial net carbon uptake over the forest cycle.