from New Scientist, 21 March 1998
The popular theory that human activity destroyed the native woods of the Scottish Highlands is a myth, claims a leading ecologist. He warns that conservationists who are trying to recreate the ancient Caledonian pine forest by planting native trees risk destroying natural moorlands and peat bogs.
James Fenton, the ecological adviser to the National Trust for Scotland, argues that much of the Highlands has been "virtually treeless" for the past 4000 years. Deforestation was caused not by human activity, he says, but by natural climate change. Between 4000 and 7000 years ago, Scotland's summers became cooler, its winters wetter and its soils more acidic.