SENIOR Scottish politicians will visit a county woodland tomorrow (Wednesday) looking at how similar areas across Scotland can be protected.

The Scottish Parliament’s citizen and public petitions committee is stopping off at Pressmennan Wood, near Stenton.

Jackson Carlaw MSP, committee convener, will be joined by David Torrance MSP, deputy convener, Alexander Stewart MSP and Paul Sweeney MSP, as well as officials from the Woodland Trust, to learn more about the challenges around protecting Scotland’s woodlands.

Owned by the Woodland Trust, Pressmennan Wood has been continuously wooded since the early 15th century but has seen much human intervention throughout its history.

A large part of the woodland is currently classified as Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland, with some large areas of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites.

The committee will visit the county as part of its consideration of a petition seeking the introduction of legislation which would provide Scotland's remaining fragments of ancient, native and semi-native woodlands and woodland floors with full legal protection following concerns that large areas are being lost or damaged each year.

At an earlier meeting, the committee heard evidence from Mairi McAllan MSP, Minister for Environment and Land Reform, who indicated that the Scottish Government were undertaking work to develop the register of ancient woodlands and were looking at options to improve existing protections and enforcement measures.

Mr Carlaw said: “Protecting Scotland’s native and ancient woodlands is incredibly important to supporting biodiversity and maintaining our natural environment.

“This petition has helped to shine a light on the challenges we need to address to ensure their long-term future.

“The committee has heard directly from the petitioners and a range of experts who have expressed their concerns over the lack of these woodlands protection from inappropriate developments and other threats, which has resulted in large areas of ancient woodland being lost for good over recent years.

“The Citizens Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s visit to Pressmennan Wood in East Lothian alongside the Woodland Trust will help us see the issues first hand and look at what next steps the Committee can take to help protect our ancient woodlands.”