A video on Facebook has claimed that Scotland has a directive to chop down 17 million trees.
In the video, the woman says: “Scotland have an order, a directive, to chop down 17 million trees. Trees absorb CO2. So I’m asking some questions here. How does chopping down 17 million trees down help with the CO2 situation by replacing them by property and wind farms with fibreglass sails or solar panels with plastic parts?”
Full Fact could find no evidence that there is a government order or directive to chop down 17 million trees. Scottish Forestry, the Scottish government agency responsible for forestry policy, told Full Fact that there was no directive from them to fell 17 million trees.
The claim may relate to the fact that 14 million trees were felled for wind farms in the 20 year period between the year 2000 and 2020—although this doesn’t take into account how many more were subsequently planted.
This was first covered in 2020 by Scottish publication the Herald, based on data provided by the Scottish Government. According to RMIT ABC Fact Check in Australia, the story was picked up by several American news sites more recently.
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An estimated 13.9 million trees were felled, but 272 million were planted
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) confirmed to Full Fact that an estimated 13.9 million trees were felled for wind farms on land that it managed (which is about 10% of Scotland’s land and one third of its forests).
But it also said that over the same period 272 million trees were planted in Scotland by all land managers (not just FLS). This number does not include replanting commercial trees that have been felled, and on average FLS plants 25 million trees per year of this type.
FLS added that, “To date, the amount of woodland removed across Scotland’s national forests and land (managed by FLS) for windfarm development is not even 1 per cent of the total woodland area managed by FLS.”
The woman in the video goes on to ask how chopping down 17 million trees and “replacing them by [sic] property and wind farms” will help “the CO2 situation”, which implies she might not be talking about the number of trees chopped down just for wind farms.
If 14 million trees have been felled on public land over 20 years for wind farms, then more than that will have been felled across the whole nation for both wind farms and property (as well as for other reasons trees are felled). But there is no “directive” for Scotland to cut down 17 million trees.
Image courtesy of Craig Bradford