Praise for partnership approach to tackling storm damage

The partnership approach between public and private forestry organisations to deal with the aftermath of the winter storms has been praised by environment minister Màiri McAllan.

Mark Dowie
Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 7:00am
Praise for partnership approach to tackling storm damage

Very quickly after Storm Arwen hit late in November, Scottish Forestry and Confor brought together the industry to begin the huge task of managing the recovery operation.

At the time, Forest Research initially estimated that 4000 ha of woodland had been damaged by Arwen. Their revised estimate now stands at 8000 ha, around 16 million trees.

The revised estimates are derived from improvements in computer modelling, updated mapping and through citizen science, where woodland owners have provided on the ground data.

Ms McAllan said: “Many landowners are still clearing up and this will continue for months to come. The forestry sector had its mettle thoroughly tested but it has shown its resilience and is managing the aftermath very well. The way so many parts of the industry have pulled together is really quite admirable.”

Over the last four months, Scottish Forestry has supported the sector by allocating extra staff resources to the places in most need. The agency has fast-tracked the necessary paperwork needed to handle windblown trees.

Staff at Scottish Forestry have already approved 5000 ha worth of Felling Permissions and are working on a further 2000 ha. The average turnaround time for the paperwork was fast-tracked to 16 days, when it would normally take up to six weeks.

Doug Howieson, Scottish Forestry’s head of operational delivery added: “The winter storms have put us under a lot of pressure but we’ve been up to the challenge.

“Felling Permission applications, which are needed for windblown trees, are starting to slow down now which is a good indication that we are past the initial emergency phase of this work.”

Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) teams are also working with contractors to deal with the significant levels of storm damage in the national forests it manages. Although some locations are likely to remain affected for months, recreational access is being opened up. The agency is advising visitors to check its website for the latest information and to not enter closed or damaged woodlands.

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