Environment Minister, Mairi McAllan, viewed Climate Emergency adaptation first hand during a visit to Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) steep ground timber harvesting site at Grotaig (near Invermoriston).
The site is one of several in FLS’s A82 Project, which is part of its Steep Ground Tree Management Programme.
The locations targeted in the Programme are characterised by over-mature conifers that are at a high risk of being blown over by storm winds and causing significant infrastructure damage.
An incident at Grotaig could affect the road, power lines and fibre optic cabling that would have far reaching consequences over weeks – or even months – of recovery time.
Felling these at-risk trees and replacing them with native woodlands will, over time, increase the stability of the slopes as the native trees’ roots bind the soil and make them more resilient to extreme weather events.
Ms McAllan, said;
“The recent storms that have battered Scotland illustrate the pressing need to make adaptations to our national forests that will limit, as far as possible, the risk of damage and disruption.
“By planting new forests and woodland with a greater variety of species in a less uniform structure, we are adapting our forests to make them more resilient in the face of coming challenges.
“The adaptation work under way in the Steep Ground Programme will also help to protect Scotland’s infrastructure and so limit the negative impacts of changing climate.
“This will benefit local communities, businesses, our emergency services and the rural economy and will also help to create woodland corridors to increase Scotland’s biodiversity network.
“FLS’ adaptation programme, which was praised in the recently published Climate Change Committee report, illustrates well how action taken now will protect Scotland’s forests, biodiversity and infrastructure well into the future.”
In partnership with BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland, all of the steep ground felling work is planned in meticulous detail and reinforced with significant safety measures to protect the roadway and utilities.
However, even these safety measures would not have reduced the resulting damage had Storm Arwen been funnelled down the Great Glen.
FLS’ adaptation work includes the woodland creation programme at the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll and adapting forests by planting a greater mix of species at different times to create a patchwork of forests of uneven height – actions that will help to dissipate wind gusts and offer greater protection for the forest.