Nature and Biodiversity

This Scottish forest is both a home for wildlife and a boost for the local economy

Craigvinean not only provides a home to ‘champion trees’, it also supplies timber and local jobs. Image: WWF/Netflix

Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Future of the Environment

  • Craigvinean forest provides sustainable timber and a home for wildlife
  • Forestry generates £285 million for the Scottish economy each year, and employs 30,000 people in the country
  • Plantations like this could also help reduce deforestation, by meeting the demand for wood, without having to sacrifice natural forest

Eva Sparreboom believes the future is wooden.

“If we want to reduce plastic in the environment we need wood. If we want to build houses, use wood, it’s a perfectly sustainable resource. It smells nice, it’s beautiful, it insulates well and it speaks to people’s imaginations.”

Sparreboom is Harvesting & Marketing Operations Forester for the Forestry Commission Scotland. She helps to oversee Craigvinean plantation, which is a living example of how to balance the needs of the environment and the economy.

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It’s one of the first forests in Perthshire’s Big Tree Country, an area of more than 800 square km that includes more champion trees – exceptional examples of their species – than anywhere else in the UK.

Craigvinean provides a home to these trees and the wildlife, like the rare red squirrel, that depends on them. It also attracts visitors with its views over the historic town of Dunkeld and the River Tay, supplies timber, and creates local jobs.

“Craigvinean’s one of the best examples I can think of a well-managed forest that works for both the environment, people and economic value of timber,” says Sparreboom.

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Reducing deforestation

Timber plantations like Craigvinean could reduce deforestation worldwide, according to WWF, by meeting the demand for wood, while leaving natural forest alone.

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Trees here are selectively felled to retain a range of forest functions, allowing older trees to thrive.

And plantation forestry plays an important role in protecting old-growth forests.

“If we can make sure that we have a sustainable source of timber," says Sparreboom, "then we don’t need to touch any old-growth forests and we can leave those for what they are.”

“Craigvinean’s one of the best examples of a well-managed forest that works for both the environment, people and economic value of timber.”

There’s another environmental benefit too: timber is a low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel, so replacing energy-intensive building materials with wood could save huge amounts of carbon.

Forestry generates £285 million for the Scottish economy every year, and employs 30,000 people in the country.

In Craigvinean, income from selling timber funds the care of the plantation and its wildlife, while technology is also making forestry here safer and cutting waste by making the most of every tree.

Sparreboom says she'd like her daughters to understand forests are not places that should be left untouched, but nor should they be exploited and destroyed.

“There are many ways that trees look after us, and so it’s important that we look after trees to make sure that they keep doing that for years to come.”

Read more about the inspiring pioneers finding creative solutions to the climate crisis here: https://wef.ch/pioneersforourplanet

About the series: Each week we’ll bring you a new video story about the people striving to restore nature and fighting climate change. In collaboration with @WWF and the team behind the Netflix documentary #OurPlanet. #ShareOurPlanet

Read more about it here.

Our campaign: Want to raise your #VoiceForThePlanet? Life on Earth is under threat, but you can help. People around the world are raising their voice in support of urgent action. Add yours now at www.voicefortheplanet.org

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