Planting trees is not, as many would argue, the easy answer to tackling climate change according to NFU Scotland president Andrew McCornick.
He told the union’s annual conference in Glasgow today (February 6) that recently aired targets of planting 100m trees a year globally by 2030 would have unintended consequences.
“We are being told that trees are the solution yet Ben Fogle goes out to Siberia and discovers that the tree canopy is protecting the land surface, heating the permafrost and creating warming,” said Mr McCornick.
“There is no scientific agreement on whether trees will warm or cool the planet. Trees have darker canopies than grassy vegetation absorbing more sunlight and heating the land surface. This is a problem not yet included in the calculations of afforestation by advocates.”
Mr McCornick went on to describe tree planting as a ‘distraction’ from the real issue of reducing fossil fuel usage and transforming energy systems. It would also displace the potential to grow food.
“In Scotland’s case it means importing food from somewhere that is deforesting. The consequences of political decisions and policy must be thought through holistically,” Mr McCornick added.