Scottish school children and local communities have planted thousands of trees across Scotland, thanks to the Wee Forest scheme.

The initiative, led by NatureScot and supported by £500,000 of Scottish Government funding, has given life to a total of 27 urban forests in towns and cities all over the country in places including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow.

Most Wee Forests have been planted near primary schools lacking green space, with each forest boasting around 600 native trees and capable of attracting up to 500 different animal and plant species within the first three years.

The National:

Not only is this beneficial to the environment but it enables school children in urban areas to learn how to care for the trees and monitor the nature they attract.

The scheme gives young people the opportunity to tackle nature loss as a result of critical climate change, as well as contributing to Scotland’s tree planting targets by planting and looking after the forests in their neighbourhoods.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “This fantastic network of Wee Forests is an important legacy of COP26 and is a great example of partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sectors. Connecting people with nature, particularly in urban areas, brings so many benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. Creating more green spaces will enable people to enjoy spending time outdoors and care for the natural environment on their doorstep.

“As we approach COP15 on biodiversity, innovative projects like this will showcase to the rest of the world how Scotland is leading the way in our action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.”

NatureScot Board Member Dr Heather Reid said: “These Wee Forests are inspiring young people to protect, restore and value nature. As they grow up alongside their forests, they’ll not only benefit from learning about nature, but they’ll also spend more time in the outdoors, improving their physical and mental health.

“It’s fantastic to see so many of these urban forests taking root in our towns and cities, so a huge thanks to our partners and all the young people and local communities which helped make this happen. We’re now working with partners to find ways to bring even more Wee Forests to more people across the country.”

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Supported by Earthwatch Europe, young people can also take part in science activities to raise awareness of climate change and the value of urban trees. This includes monitoring the butterflies that use the forests and measuring how much carbon is captured by the trees as they grow.

Earthwatch Europe CEO Steve Andrews said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with NatureScot to expand the Wee Forest movement across Scotland. Getting communities involved in planting and ongoing citizen science at their local Wee Forest is an exciting opportunity to connect people with nature, whilst providing vital data on forest growth and environmental benefits.”