Trees could help bring in money

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS -

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.”

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