The new urban ‘forest’ is designed to tackle climate change and will see the trees planted across the Glasgow City Region.
The ambitious planting pledge lies at the heart of the new Clyde Climate Forest, which is part of the Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network, and will breathe new life across the eight local authorities in the region.
Around 18 million trees will be planted over the next decade, increasing woodland cover in the region from 17 per cent to 20 per cent.
The move is being viewed as an ideal opportunity for Glasgow City Region to demonstrate its commitment to reaching net zero, as it hosts COP26 in November.
John Ross, South Lanarkshire Council leader, said: “I am delighted that we are involved in such a vital and ambitious project.
“This year we have an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Glasgow City Region and showcase how we are planning to adapt to and mitigate climate change, while allowing nature to thrive and grow.
“New community woodlands, trees and forests will bring multiple benefits to our local communities as well as wildlife.
"The pandemic has brought into focus like never before the value of local spaces as places to exercise, de-stress and engage with nature and this project can help to deliver the Green Recovery.
“The economic, ecological and social benefits will be extensive.”
There are around 29,000 hectares of broadleaved woodland in the region but they are fragmented due to urban development. The new planting aims to connect these woodlands and help restore nature and boost biodiversity.
Working to the principle of ‘the right tree in the right place’, the project team aims to plant trees in areas of deprivation, former coalmining sites, vacant and derelict land, urban streets and other civic places.
Mairi McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, said: “This is a significant and well timed initiative showcasing all that is good in tree planting as we approach COP26.
"It is also a first for Scotland, with eight local authorities working together with government and other partners on a major woodland creation initiative.
“Tree planting is key to tackling the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss and there is tremendous support for it across Scotland. The Clyde Climate Forest taps into this and the benefits will last for generations.”
As part of the long-term plans, the project team at Clyde Climate Forest is calling on community groups and land managers to help them identify places to plant new trees or replace ones that have been lost in the past.
Work is also beginning to encourage smaller land owners and local authorities to gear up for tree planting. They are being offered free woodland assessments to help them identify potential new areas to be greened up with trees.
Businesses within Glasgow City Region are also being encouraged to get their staff involved with community tree planting projects.
Businesses and other organisations can invest in the Clyde Climate Forest if they sign up to a new charter which demonstrates their commitment to reducing emissions.
The majority of woodland planting will be funded through Scottish Forestry’s various grant schemes but also through funding mechanisms that the Clyde Climate Forest can lever. Community groups and individuals can also donate.
The project secured a £400,000 grant from the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund as well as £150,000 from Scottish Forestry over the next two years to recruit a project team and kick-start the development of new planting schemes.
Individuals and community groups can make a donation at www.mypark.scot/projects/clyde-climate-forest. Business donations can be made at www.gcvgreennetwork.gov.uk/clyde-climate-forest.