Couriers: Need to look closely at the spread of new forest plantations

VICKY Allan asks interesting questions about BrewDog’s tree-planting ambitions in the Cairngorms (“Brewdog: A punk way to save the world. Or green lairds?”, The Herald, June 21). But does BrewDog deserve the Scottish Government’s huge forestry grant, reportedly in excess of £1million, to help with this endeavour? Maybe BrewDog is just boarding a public money gravy train, along with hordes of other business interests, investors and anyone else who wants to buy huge chunks of Scotland, with no restrictions . Most of these purchases are tied to forestry grants that encourage plantation forestry and miles of deer fencing.

Sadly, BrewDog’s Kinrara Estate, near Aviemore, is entirely the wrong place to spend public money on tree planting. All of its land, covering approximately 37 km2, is either within the Cairngorms National Park or the Monadhliath Wilderness Area. It contains or is adjacent to important remnants of the pine forest of ancient Caledonia. The heritage quality of this forest is entirely based on a very specific characteristic: it has been regenerating naturally, by self-seeding, since the last ice age, some 9,000 years ago. Planting in such an area will degrade the natural qualities of the forest and is not necessary.

A tree established by nature, by self-seeding, will capture much more carbon over its lifetime than a tree raised in a nursery and then planted on a hillside. Spending public money to fence and plant deer in Kinrara is an amazing way to spend our tax dollars as nature provides essential tree cover for free. Just stop burning the heather and reduce overgrazing by red deer. Kinrara needs more stalkers, not fences.

Perhaps BrewDog, without realizing it, has found itself in a situation that has the potential to significantly damage its reputation. For decades there has been a warm relationship between government forestry officials and landowners, many of whom are keen to use forestry for subsidy and tax purposes. Most of these landowners also wish to maintain very high numbers of deer for the enjoyment of recreational sports. As a result, the natural regeneration and ecological recovery of native forests, heaths and arctic alpine vegetation is prevented. Even today, few senior officials in Scottish Forestry are willing to upset that basket of apples so that instead of insisting that deer numbers be reduced to levels that allow regeneration, they spend millions of pounds of our money every year to plant trees behind deer fences.

We would get much better value for that money if only a fraction were spent on employing more deer trackers instead. The natural regeneration of native forests over large swaths of the Highlands and elsewhere would result, providing massive biodiversity and carbon sequestration benefits, as well as easily meeting Scottish Government reforestation targets.

Dave Morris, Kinross.

LET MEN SPEAK

WE women know it’s a man’s world and that’s why we need their help right now. You may think the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Bill has nothing to do with you, but if you have mothers, sisters, daughters or nieces you should pay attention. This means that their safe, women-only spaces will be able to be occupied by adult men who choose to say they are women. This is a very threatening proposition for most women and a serious erosion of women’s rights.

So, all reasonable, free-spirited men should speak up and let politicians know that this proposal for gender self-identification is unacceptable and flawed for the majority of women.

Thank you for your help.

Elizabeth Crombie, Milgavie.

LESSONS HAVE NOT BEEN LEARNED

I CATCHED the headline in your ‘From Our Archives’ section on Friday (“Council skyscrapers declared clear after Grenfell Tower fire, The Herald, 24 June”).

I have just returned from a holiday in Madeira and as some do I was watching several of their TV channels.

A program caught my eye. It was a multi-storey apartment tower in Melbourne, Australia that caught fire. The fire spread rapidly as it was aggravated and spread through her coating.

The program then went on to indicate that this surfacing material was comparable to that used on the Grenfell Tower block in London. It continued by defining the composite material. To my ears it sounded like Grenfell Tower

Grenfell Tower was in 2017. This Melbourne fire was in 2014. As a technical professional, now retired, I thought one of our job requirements was to learn from others as well as improve.

John Taylor, Dunlop.

GIVING GAELIC A NEW LIFE

DOROTHY Dennis (Letters, 20 and 23 June) is concerned that the Gaelic word bùrach as a loan word in Scots has come to be spelled burach. But she surely realizes that Scots has adopted hundreds of Gaelic words over the centuries; and that the respelling of loanwords to represent their pronunciation by the spelling conventions of the borrowed language is a universally familiar practice.

Fergusson’s poem is The Farmer’s Ingle, not inneal; Burns’ John Highlandman wore a philabeg, not a beag féileadh; the iconic sculptures near Falkirk are the Kelpies, not cailpeich. Similarly, Scottish and English loanwords in Gaelic have been respelled; “winnock” giving uinneag, “causey” cabhsair, “college” colaiste, etc.

I have to admit, though, that I’m as irritated as she probably is by the illiterate spelling ‘skean dhu’ for sgian dubh; dh- being neither good English nor, in this context, good Gaelic.

Derrick McClure, Aberdeen.

• IAN Smith (Letters, June 23) makes the common mistake of associating independence with Gaidhlig. The ‘gaelification of Scotland nonsense’ was introduced by the Labour/Liberal government of Holyrood after 2001, not the SNP.

If most areas “never spoke or understood the language” of Gaidhlig/Brittonic (like Glaschu), what language do you think they spoke, Latin?

Dougie McNicol, Glasgow.

SHELL-SHOCKED

YOUR report on a new scientific study (“Turtles May Slow the Aging Process,” The Herald June 24), has raised an issue that has troubled me at times since I had a turtle in a paper bag in “ The Poly” from Glasgow 80 years ago, and finding out for the count a few weeks later.

Frisky received a Christian burial. But was he dead or simply in hibernation?

And could I still take it from the walkies in my old age?

R Russell Smith, Largs.