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Woodland plans for the Northern Isles

Orkney and Shetland, Scotland’s northern outposts, have become famous for their unrestricted vistas of land, sea and sky.

Now centuries of history and natural forces are to be defied. Plans are being laid to transform the scenery of the bleak Northern Isles with the planting of up to quarter of a million trees over the next three years.

Landowners, farmers, crofters and community groups are being offered government grants of up to £3,000 a hectare to reverse the islands’ treeless image and return them to a state that the Vikings would have recognised.

Ministers believe the ambitious tree-planting project will not only improve the look of the islands but also provide a boost for tourism.

"Orkney and Shetland are famed for their open landscapes but there is a strong local demand for more trees," said Scottish Executive environment minister Allan Wilson. "Creating woodlands there will improve the environment for islanders and boost wildlife tourism which will strengthen the local economies."

Pollen studies by scientists have revealed that both of the island chains were once covered in dense woodlands of birch, alder, willow, hazel, rowan and aspen. But Neolithic and Bronze age settlers from around 3000BC are believed to have been the first to start the process of cutting down the native woodland to provide wood for fuel and grazing for animals.

Jeremy Watson, 'Scotland on Sunday' 2/3/3
IronMan Posted by IronMan
2nd March 2003ce

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