Scots pine

Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) has the widest natural distribution of any conifer in the world. It can be found from northern Scandinavia to Spain in the south and from Scotland across Europe and Asia to Siberia. Scots pine is a very strong tree that can grow on poor soil types, surviving where the rainfall is less than 200mm per year, and temperatures drop to arctic temperatures.

Scots pine is the only commercially useful coniferous tree that found its way into Britain at the end of the last Ice Age before the English Channel opened. In Scotland, pines were an important component of post-glacial natural forests (the so-called Great Wood of Caledon) which covered an estimated 70 per cent of the country. They were largely confined to the poorest soils, often occurring in association with birch and willows and alder on wet areas. Over the course of many centuries vast areas of the ancient pine forests were cleared, and pinewood regeneration was prevented by allowing the land to be grazed. At present only remnants of the pine forest survive scattered all over Scotland but their survival is secure through the efforts made during the past 40 years to preserve them and even stimulate natural regeneration.

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