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Region’s low tree planting rates flagged up in report

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By Euan Maxwell
Front
Region’s low tree planting rates flagged up in report
The proposed site of Bluebell Wood by Annanside playing field in Moffat

A NATIONWIDE tree-planting initiative has seen participation in Dumfries and Galloway amongst the lowest in the UK – raising questions over commitment to environmental causes in the region.

It comes after Moffat residents earlier this month hit-back against proposals to plant over 1500 trees and create a new woodland on the edge of the town.

BBC Countryfile’s ‘Plant Britain’ scheme is aiming to add 750,000 new trees to Britain’s landscapes over two years.

And a map showing the project’s progress has revealed that thus far, just 255 have been seeded in Dumfries and Galloway whilst the vast majority of other UK regions have planted well over over 1000.

Furthermore, a new report from the Woodlands Trust on the state of the UK’s woods and trees in 2021 warns of “great pressure” on existing woodlands and states that the demand for increased planting is “escalating”.

The report says although woodland cover is gradually increasing, woodland wildlife is decreasing existing native woodlands are isolated and in poor ecological condition, which has “contributed to wildlife loss.”

And it states that “not nearly enough” is being done to create new resilient native woodlands as part of larger ecological networks.

However, a plan to establish fresh forests locally has been met with a backlash; proposals recently put forward by a group of organisations in Moffat to create ‘Riverside Bluebell Wood’ by Annanside playing field has proved somewhat unpopular online.

The project – a partnership between Dumfries and Galloway Council, Space to Grow Moffat, Moffat Community Woodlands, Moffat and District Community Council and resident Roy Anderton-Tyers – is still in the planning stages and has completed a consultation period with the community.

If given the green light, 1800 native broad-leaf trees including hawthorns, goat willows, hazels and crab apples would be planted at Annanside.

But some living close to the area have argued the woods would obstruct light and views, whilst others said the town would lose a popular dog-walking spot if it went ahead.

Susan Lithgow, who lives at Annanside, said: “I stay at the end of this street, I have this beautiful view looking out my window. I will have what I would call a forest in front of me (how would you feel if 1800 trees were going to be planted in front of your house?).”

Ex-community council chair Dick Monaghan added he is “not against planting trees” but would “like to be able to understand the plan behind this planting programme”.

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