Trees could help bring in money
Thousands of trees planted near Loch Ness could become a new income stream for Scotland’s forestry industry – while removing thousands of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.
The trees comprise a large-scale test site investigation by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded scientists from Edinburgh University in collaboration with Forest Research, Britain’s principal organisation for forestry and tree-related research.
Over the next four years, the scientists will be monitoring the site to find out how biochar, a charcoal-like substance made from forestry residue, performs as a fertiliser, nutrient sponge and soil carbon addition.
The team believes biochar could be a “green bullet” for the environment, with the potential to generate income while improving soils, reducing residue and storing carbon.
Mike Perks, from Forest Research, said: “Forestry is a nationally important industry, but in Scotland it is concentrated on upland, nutrient-poor soils where new trees can be slow to establish.
“Every year, wood processing produces about a million tonnes of phosphorus-rich by-
“Biochar could add value to the timber industry”
product that could be used to make biochar instead of being sold as low-value mulch for horticulture.
“Biochar could help soil carbon recover faster, improve planting success, reduce the need for additional fertiliser during forest establishment and add value to the industry as an additional product.
“If a business model can be developed, this represents a huge opportunity for Scotland’s £2 billion timber processing industry.”