Western Isles trees now have a champion in Green MSP John Finnie.
Mr Finnie has asked the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to use its powers to defend the islands’ trees.
He wants the council to grant Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) to the isles’ remaining trees, to defend those that still exist and provide a stable base for expanding woodland on the islands.
The islands’ natural condition is to be covered by forest, but deforestation by humans has led to the present environment, described by Scottish Natural Heritage as ‘generally treeless’.
He said: “Woodland is good for people, for wild plant and animal species, and for the rural economy. The Western Isles are one of the most deforested parts of Scotland, so it makes sense to use already existing powers to defend the remaining trees.
“Native woodland in the Western Isles is even more seriously threatened. The 2004 Native Woodlands Habitat Action Plan estimated that there was just 200 hectares of semi-natural woodland left on the islands, and set a target of ensuring no net loss in area or reduction in quality of these ecologically and historically precious areas.
“The rules for TPOs specify that the Order must protect either ‘amenity’ or trees of ‘cultural or historical significance’. Any further loss of trees on the islands would clearly be a blow to local people’s wellbeing – or ‘amenity’ – and there can be no doubt that our remaining native woodland is of both cultural and historical significance.”