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South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has welcomed the news that the Scots Pine is to be designated the National Tree of Scotland.
The announcement made today (Wednesday) by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse follows a consultation by Forestry Commission Scotland which saw members of the public vote in favour of designating the native pine species as Scotland’s National Tree.
The idea caught the public imagination, as well as gathering support from organisations such as the Woodland Trust and Trees for Life after environmental campaigner Alex Hamilton submitted a petition to parliament last year pressing the case for a national tree.
Ms McAlpine subsequently threw her support behind the campaign – leading a debate on the issue in Parliament last May – arguing that a national tree could help boost efforts to restore native forests as well as educating young people about the importance of the environment.
Commenting the SNP MSP said:
“It is fantastic news that the Scottish Government has taken on board the arguments I and others involved in this campaign have put forward about the value of declaring a national tree for Scotland.
“It is a great way to educate children about the environment and how it links to Scotland’s history and identity.
“I saw this for myself last year when I was joined at Butterdean Wood in East Lothian by Primary One pupils to plant young Scots Pine. The Children had a great time planting their saplings, and now they will be inspired to come back to the forest to watch them grow.”
She added:
 “I am personally pleased that the Scots Pine has topped the poll.  It is an iconic species and does not grow naturally elsewhere in the UK or Ireland. Yet it is the most widely distributed conifer in the world, stretching from Scandinavia to southern Spain and from Ardnamurchan to Eastern Siberia.  The Scots pine evokes the spirit of the Scottish human diaspora which is also scattered widely and is the perfect ambassador for a country whose people have made such a mark on the world.”
Image Credit: Allan McCreadie