Scotland’s national tree – Scots pine?

The Scottish Government is considering whether Scotland should have its own national tree, and if so, what species should be chosen.

We’ve invited advocates for six species to give the case for their tree of choice. In the last of our series of guest blogs, Clifton Bain expresses why Scots pine is the natural choice for this accolade. Clifton has worked in conservation for over 25 years and his new book ‘The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland‘ published by Sandstone Press describes all the remaining sites, which he has visited using public transport, walking and cycling.

“The very name, Scots pine makes this a prime candidate as our national tree. Such a charismatic and recognisable species has all the qualities to represent Scotland’s people, landscape and wildlife.


Adapted to our cold and wet conditions, the special British population is now only found in the Scottish Highlands. The Scots pine is tenacious, thriving in nutrient poor soils or clinging to rock faces where no other tree will grow. It has a variety of form that is appealing and photogenic. The Caledonian pinewoods, with their iconic creatures, the Scottish wildcat, red squirrel and capercaillie are defining elements in the Scottish countryside. The history of Scotland’s people is also carved into these natural monuments. Pinewood remnants hold individual trees born during the Jacobite uprisings.


The Highland clearances for sheep grazing followed by the increase in deer herds took their toll on the woods. Twentieth century conservation effort then led to the pinewoods recovering, with young surviving in places for the first time in two hundred years. This is a tree asserting itself, rising up to a natural tree line in the mountains, standing proud amongst its broadleaved cousins. It is a flagship species in the progression of native woodlands under Scotland’s forestry policy.

Scots pine is an emblem for the future, providing employment from timber, wildlife tourism, a backdrop for Hollywood blockbusters or simply a magical place to visit.”

What do you think about Scot’s Pine as Scotland’s national tree? You can have your say in the public consultation until 3 December.

Rory Syme, PR and Communications Officer, Woodland Trust Scotland


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
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