Scottish trees a beacon of hope for biodiversity?

Species have been found growing at record altitudes, according to new research from scientists

Big Zero Report 2023

Trees in Scotland have been found growing at record altitudes in what could prove priceless for biodiversity restoration.

Research by the University of Stirling found trees on mountains more than 3,770 feet high – with 11 records broken for specific species growing at certain heights.

“This shows us that there is potential for woodland restoration in Britain’s mountains after centuries of habitat loss and degradation,” Sarah Watts, who gathered the data, said.

Hilltop woodlands have experienced heavy loss during the last few millennia but Ms Watts believes this could prove to be a beacon of hope for the environment moving forward.

She continued: “I have now bagged more than 200 Munros although I must admit I did lose count because I am more concerned with recording the distribution and altitudes of trees and other mountain plants.

“It was fascinating to find trees growing at the absolute limit of environmental tolerance for these species. Some were 200 metres above previously known altitudes.”

Overgrazing of livestock and hunting has led to the degradation of habitats in the mountains, the researchers have said.

If restored, these woodlands can both benefit wildlife and protecting people from the risks of flooding.

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