What is climate change?

Climate change is a change in the usual weather found in a place such as the amount of rain it gets in a year or a change in temperature for a month or season. For example, warming of Earth's climate has caused snow and ice to melt, oceans to rise and some plants to grow at different points in the year.

Forestry's role in climate change

To help reduce the effects of climate change, forestry has a significant role to play by:

  • locking up carbon in growing trees and creating more woodlands
  • supporting the use of wood fuel and renewable energy as a substitute to fossil fuels
  • promoting the use of wood in place of more carbon-intensive materials
  • promoting sustainable forest management

What are we doing to grow our forests

  • We've created over 33,000 ha of new woodland (66 million trees) over the last 3 years – around 80% of all new planting in the UK.
  • We're putting record levels of investment into supporting woodland creation schemes. Both large and small schemes are important in contributing towards climate change objectives.
  • £150 million is being pumped into creating new woodlands and planting levels are being increased from 13,500 hectares (27 million trees) in 2021/22 to 18,000 hectares (36 million trees) each year by 2024/25.
  • At least 4,000 hectares a year of this new woodland will be native woodland.

Woodland creation and management 

There are a wide range of options for woodland creation and woodland management and in the right circumstances, all woodland types and options can help reduce the effects of climate change.

Slower growing broadleaves can collect high carbon reserves within the woodlands themselves over the longer term. Faster growing conifers can sequester more quickly in the medium to long term and also produce wood products that substitute for high greenhouse gas emitting materials and fossil fuels in the longer term. They support Scotland’s economy, green recovery and job creation. Home grown timber also ensures we reduce offshoring of our wood production to natural forests. 

Read the climate change mitigation information note for more information.

Sustainable timber harvesting

When timber is harvested with consideration for future impacts, we responsibly produce a valuable resource and preserve forests for future generations.

Most of the houses in Scotland are made of timber, but you may not immediately identify this because timber makes up the frame and internal structures of the house. Timber structures can be erected quickly, can help reduce the energy costs of a house and have better environmental credentials than most other construction materials. By using timber in construction we use less CO2. Using wood in construction also locks away the carbon for the lifetime of the building.

Related documents

Climate change

Sustainable construction