Tree lovers welcome Scots pine’s status

Scotland's national tree, a Scots Pine at Thornielee
Scotland's national tree, a Scots Pine at Thornielee

The Scots pine is Scotland’s national tree symbol following a three-month public consultation by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

More than 4.500 people took part with over half (2,374) voting for the native conifer, pushing the rowan into second with 15 per cent of the vote (687) and the Holly, which garnered 33 votes (seven per cent) into third.

Berwickshire’s Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the Scottish Government’s environment minister, announced the results during a members’ debate at Holyrood last week.

He said: “The Scots Pine was an obvious choice and certainly the people’s choice. Its designation of being the national tree of Scotland will help create an iconic symbol to highlight the significant contribution trees make to our country. “

The idea came from a member of the public, Alex Hamilton, who petitioned Parliament and received cross-party support from MSPs.

FCS hopes the symbol will help promote, celebrate and get people talking about trees.

Reaction in the Borders has been supportive.

Borders Forest Trust director Dr Jane Rosegrant said: “The voting and discussions gave people the chance to reflect on the variety and beauty of our native trees. We are especially interested to see if the choice will encourage further debate about accepting Scots pine as a species native to the south of Scotland.”

Bob Fleet, chairman of Wooplaw, Scotland’s first community woodland, near Stow, said: “Some of the largest trees at Wooplaw are Scots pines and they’re amazing. It’s really great that they’ve now become the official national tree, but I think they always were the unofficial one anyway, I’m glad the public recognised that.”

And Mr Fleet, who also works with wood, said: “There’s a great smell from the high resin content when you’re working with the wood. It’s like being back in the forest.”

And Chris Houston of Ancrum-based Caledonia Log Homes, said: ”It is one of my favourite trees and the mention of it always makes me think of a gnarly old Scots pine behind my parents house, bent and twisted by constant westerly winds leaning over to one side.

“The other image that immediately springs to mind is of a video I had when very young (showing) an adult osprey flying in and attempting to snap off large branches from a Scots pine with its claws for nest building. It was amazing footage.

“For me, it really is iconic and I can relate to it throughout my life, taking me back to my parents, my young exciting bird watching and, when travelling, seeing a Scots pine would make me think of home.

“So I think it probably is the right choice and will have a fond place in many Scots hearts as well as in all the visitors who come to Scotland for our scenery and wildlife.

“It is fitting because it was a tree of the old Caledonian forests and seeing a red squirrel chattering on a trunk or deer walking past makes you immediately nostalgic.”