This year’s routine planting season – over the winter months to March – comes at the same time as efforts to tackle the widespread damage caused by Storm Arwen.

FLS estimates that up to 900ha – the equivalent of 738 football pitches – in forests that it manages, were damaged across the east coast, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and south Scotland in November 2021.

This is the equivalent of nearly a third of the annual FLS tree felling programme in a single night.

Many of these were mature trees, ready for harvesting, but the fact that they have been blown over makes the work of extracting them more difficult.

Over the next 12 months, FLS aims to plant approximately 25 million new tree seedlings to create new woodlands and restock existing forests where older trees have been felled, as well as repairing storm damaged woodlands.

Tree species include native species such as birch, oak, aspen, rowan and commercial conifers such as Scots pine and Sitka spruce; around half are grown in FLS’s dedicated tree nursery near Elgin.

All the new forestry, especially the productive forestry that’s grown for much-needed timber, will help contribute to meeting Scotland’s climate change targets by locking up carbon.

Increasing the proportion of productive forestry is also vital to reduce the UK’s dependence on timber imports.

“The damage caused by Storm Arwen to publicly managed forests that FLS manages is only half the story, and privately owned forests have been just as badly affected,” said Doug Knox, FLS head of technical services group.

“The scale of the damage is making significant demands on the forestry sector. In one night the equivalent of nearly one third of our annual tree felling programme blew over as a result of Storm Arwen.

“We are now having to make substantial re-adjustments in work programmes to deal with the clear-up. We are working closely with others in the wider forestry industry to build momentum in the clear-up operation.

“Meanwhile, our large scale tree planting programmes continue so that we can create new conifer and broadleaved forests that will act as the carbon sinks of the future and help to build Scotland’s timber industry.

“Furthermore as managers of around 8% of Scotland’s land, our work supports and sustains communities in rural Scotland and conserves and enhances our natural environment for future generations.”