The demand for contractors and budget constraints have meant that Angus Council has been unable to undertake clearance, but plans are now in place to tackle the issue this financial year.
But while contractors will move into Forfar Loch Country Park soon, Crombie and Monikie will have to wait until the autumn, after nesting and breeding season, due to the amount and nature of work involved.
Councillor Julie Bell, Native Woodland, Amphibians, and Barn Owl Species Champion said: “We completely recognise that many people will be disappointed that access within all the country parks can’t be improved immediately, but our priority must be to the wildlife that these valuable native woodlands support.
“Windblown and dead trees play a vital role in the lifecycle and food chain of around five thousand British species, approximately 40% of a woodland ecosystem. While some people may think deadwood is unsightly, if you look closer, you will find it is teeming with life and many species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals forage, shelter and rear young in and around deadwood and old trees.”
Once the breeding season is over, phase one of the clearance at Crombie and Monikie will focus on unblocking paths, while phase two will include some limited internal clearance of the woodland to allow some new planting of native species, although much of the fallen wood will be left to support biodiversity.
Councillor Serena Cowdy, the council’s environment spokesperson, said: “Fallen trees provide such precious habitat for many of our native species. We must accept that very ‘tidy’ woodlands aren’t usually the most wildlife-friendly!
“Like Councillor Bell, I hope that visitors to the parks will appreciate that we cannot risk disturbing these delicate and sadly increasingly rare habitats, and I know that once people are more aware of the environmental benefits, they will understand the reasons for the delays.”
Ms Kirsty Hunter, Chief Executive of ANGUSalive, the trust which runs the county’s cultural, sport and leisure services, including the parks added: “We’re pleased plans are in place to clear the paths at Forfar Loch and future works at Crombie and Monikie have been scheduled for later this year to protect and support local wildlife.
“Although Storm Arwen has resulted in some paths currently being inaccessible, our country parks remain open for visitors to enjoy these special outdoor spaces, as well as support their health and wellbeing. We would encourage everyone to visit these well-loved places safely by following the ANGUSalive signage on display in each location.
“Our Countryside Adventure team is ready to welcome you to take part in our fantastic land and water-based activities over the warmer months or why not join the charity as a volunteer to help look after your country parks throughout the year.”