CONCERNS have been raised over proposed tree planting on a Borders estate.

An online consultation is currently running to seek views on planting on the Stobo Estate near Peebles – and the consultation ends today (Monday, October 2).

The planting would cover a total of 677.60 ha (hectares).

Members of the public have shared their concerns that the planting – including 626.63 ha of conifers and 50.97 ha of broadleaf trees – will impact the John Buchan Way and could create problems for local wildlife which need open grassland to survive.

"The John Buchan Way is a cultural asset to Peebles, Broughton and the wider Scottish Borders, linking recreational activities such as walking and cycling with a resonant historical public figure," one commenter said. "This asset would irrevocably damaged by the proposed plantation, with knock on impacts to the Peebles museum and economic interests in Broughton, such as the Laurel Bank café and local shop."

They added that the estate is home to a number of red listed bird species according to the UK Birds of Conservation Concern 2021 report – including curlew, skylark, and hen harrier.

They said: "These bird species are all those whose habitat needs are not met by forestry and instead require open ground, heather moorland, rough grassland, low vegetation and expansive terrain.

"The current proposals for almost complete planting of the hillslopes with trees is inappropriate for the maintenance of habitat for these species."

In response to concerns, a Scottish Forestry spokesperson said: “Scotland is expanding its forests and woodlands as it’s vital that we tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.

“Every woodland creation application is rigorously assessed by Scottish Forestry with the guiding principle of ensuring the right trees are in the right place.

“The current application from the Stobo Estate is out for public consultation and has been placed on the public register for 28 days, with this part of the process ending on October 2. We have also consulted NatureScot, SEPA, Historic Environment Scotland and the Scottish Govt, as well as the local authority.

“The total area of the project area is 953 hectares, of which 677 ha is intended to be planted on consisting of low density native woodland, as well as productive conifers.

"The project also incorporates other native broadleaves and open space. Just under 40 per cent will be Sitka Spruce, balancing productivity with nature, landscape and biodiversity.

“Once the consultation period has finished we will carefully consider all the feedback and whether the current proposal needs any alterations while continuing to comply with UK wide forestry standards.”

To share your views on the application and to view a map of the project, visit Scottish Forestry's consultation webpage.