Assessing the Area of Suitable Land for Climate Change Mitigation with Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) in Scotland

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Abstract

One of the key areas in which the United Kingdom government plans to achieve net zero, reduce GHG emissions and sequester carbon is through afforestation. Afforestation will also provide ecosystem services to society. The Scottish government’s target is to increase woodland cover in Scotland to 25% by 2050. In this study, a land suitability analysis was used to investigate the likelihood of achieving this target based on the biophysically suitable and available land considering the current policy constraints for planting Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in Scotland. The results showed that about 19% of land area in Scotland is biophysically suitable for Sitka spruce and about 13% is biophysically suitable and available based on policy constraints. Thus, there is an opportunity for the Scottish government to increase the woodland cover in Scotland to 31.5% and exceed its 25% woodland target. However, for Scotland to achieve net zero by 2045, it will require that more trees be planted on higher-quality agricultural land, different from areas where trees are currently planted.

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Abimbola, I., & Feliciano, D. (2022). Assessing the Area of Suitable Land for Climate Change Mitigation with Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) in Scotland. Land, 11(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/land11101753

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