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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Innovative Forestry Balancing Timber Production With Environmental Aims

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Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is using innovative harvesting practices to strike a balance between productive forestry and looking after nature.

Instead of clearcutting the entire area, a technique known as ‘strip felling’ is being implemented for blocks of commercial Scots pine on the Black Isle near Inverness.

This involves selectively removing trees in parallel strips and leaving some trees standing between the strips.

This method of harvesting is more gradual, as strips of trees are cut over time and is a more controlled and phased approach that when compared to conventional clear-fells produces a more intimate feel to the forest.

FLS North Region Assistant Operations Manager, Luke Wilson, said:

“We are always looking at ways to improve our timber resources while at the same time managing our forests in a sustainable way that continues to benefit the economy, local communities and the wildlife within them.

“Following successful trials, we are now doing more strip felling across the Black Isle.

“Strip felling maintains a more diverse forest structure helping to retain biodiversity and provide habitat for various species.

“By adapting our productive forests, by giving them a greater mix of trees of different ages, we can make them even more beneficial for a wide range of animals and plants.

“Overall, the objective of strip felling in this area is to balance timber production with ecological, aesthetic and financial considerations.”

Strip felling also supports and sustains natural regeneration while maintaining continuity of tree cover.

Mr Wilson explained:

“The series of narrow, elongated strips that are cut through a forest block mean seeds from trees left standing are dispersed across the clear ground and any sunlight that penetrates these open areas is maximised.

“We have seen excellent rates of seedling densities across strip felled sites.

“We want to ensure the continued sustainable timber production from Scotland’s national forests and to grow this important sector for Scotland’s benefit.

“Trialling and adopting new ways of working can help us achieve this.”

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