Stirling Council has set a target of planting more than 1 million new trees and managing half of its land for biodiversity by 2045 as part of a bold package of measures which will aim to make the area the greenest in Scotland.

At least 80,000 trees will be planted by the end of 2023, rising to 160,000 by 2025, with the Council working with key partners, communities and landowners on the projects.

These actions will create new habitats, in rural and urban areas, which will be crucial in capturing carbon and help Stirling and Scotland achieve their zero emissions targets. 

The tree-planting and land management programmes are part of the Council’s ‘Alive with Nature’ Plan which sets out the actions the local authority and its partners have identified to create a healthier and more resilient natural environment across Stirling.

Developed in partnership with NatureScot, SEPA and the Green Action Trust, the plan address the twin climate and nature emergencies through the protection and restoration of Stirling’s natural environment.

The plan was approved by the Council’s Environment and Housing Committee last Thursday (10 Feb) following a public consultation, which ran for several months in 2021.

Scotland’s greenest region

Convener of the committee, Cllr Jim Thomson said: “This bold plan to transform Stirling into Scotland’s greenest region shows our commitment to combat climate change, conserve biodiversity and ensure our stunning natural environment is enjoyed and valued by everyone.  

“Through this ambitious tree-planting programme and a wide range of other bio-diversity measures, we can achieve our net zero targets and create healthier, happier and wealthier people and places across Stirling.

“We want to place nature at the heart of life for the people of Stirling, here and now, and I’m delighted we are now able to put this plan into action.”

*More than 90% of participants on the consultation agreed that the vision and aims of the plan were appropriate.

Protect and restore

Vice Convener, Cllr Danny Gibson said: “We have listened to the views from the public and other key stakeholders to shape the finalised plan and it’s encouraging to see the level of support for the strategy’s key objectives.  

“Through the plan we will work to protect and restore the ecosystems upon which we depend, from landscape scale woodland creation to wildflower meadows in our urban parks.

“By working in partnership with other organisations and the support and participation of communities and landowners, we can achieve these ambitions and secure the benefits of a healthy and vibrant natural environment for Stirling and Scotland.”

Other high priority actions in the plan include:

  • The rollout of three new active travel routes incorporating green infrastructure by 2024.
  • Creation of biodiverse areas within 10 school grounds and business parks.
  • Changes to land management, including grass and verge maintenance, tree planting and use of pesticides in line with Stirling’s Pollinator Strategy.
  • Bringing vacant and derelict land sites into productive use for nature, business and community.

Some of these opportunities have already commenced, including the planting of more than 7,000 new trees and the creation of 12 ponds next to Kildean Business Park in 2021.

The time to take action is now

Cllr Thomson added: “We are in a climate emergency and the time to take action is now, so it’s fantastic we are already working with partners and making progress towards these objectives.”

An annual update will be brought back to the Council’s Environment and Housing Committee to report progress on the delivery of the plan.