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Study reveals impact of tree felling on Scotland’s landscape  

Credit:  By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent | Wednesday 1 July 2015 | www.heraldscotland.com ~~

Nearly 3,000 hectares of coniferous forests mainly in Scotland have been cleared in six years to make way for wind farms and other industrial developments, according to new analysis of satellite images.

The main change was clear-felling of more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of coniferous forest, largely in Scotland and Wales between 2006 and 2012.

Experts at the University of Leicester made the claim as it launched new land maps in association with a a consultancy firm. They discovered around half of these areas were regrowing or had been replanted.

Around 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of mixed forest were also clear felled, according to the mapping which is based on 44 land cover and land use classes.

Across the UK, wetlands were among the areas of landscape which were lost, prompting concerns from wildlife experts about the disappearance of important habitat and the natural services such as flood protection they provide.

In total 225,200 hectares or almost 870 square miles of the UK, around 1 per cent of the country, showed changes in land use over the period, according to land cover maps launched by the university consultancy Specto Natura.

The main change was clear-felling of more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of coniferous forest, largely in Scotland and Wales where much of the plantation forest is found, while around half the area was regrowing or had been replanted.

Around 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of mixed forest were also clear felled, according to the mapping which used satellite data from 2006 and 2012 and is based on 44 land cover and land use classes.

The “Co-ordination of Information on the Environment” (CORINE) land cover map is part of a European-wide project gathering information on the environment.

Professor Heiko Baltzer, director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester and leader of the study said: “At the scale of change mapping or larger, there appears to be a loss of semi-natural habits and agricultural land. The apparent decline in wetlands is particularly concerning.”

Source:  By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent | Wednesday 1 July 2015 | www.heraldscotland.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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