News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

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News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate. You can follow this feed with RSS or Atom, or on Twitter. We also publish press releases.


Promoting land based careers to young people

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Young people involved in Lantra’s Industry Champions Initiative have continued developing their knowledge of land-based careers with a two-day visit to Forest Enterprise Scotland’s team in the South Region.

The eleven Champions, all previous finalists in Lantra Scotland’s Land-based and Aquaculture Learner of the Year Awards, were learning about forestry careers to hone their leadership skills that will help them inspire the next generation of learners.

Champions are involved in a variety of activities, including promoting sector careers, providing feedback to inform skills development and speaking at key stakeholder conferences and events about their learning journeys and job roles.

Emma Staniforth, an apprentice support manager with FES and herself a former Lantra Learner of the Year, took the champions and Lantra staff around a harvesting site in Ae Forest.

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Emma said;

“The visit was a great opportunity to help the Champions build on their knowledge and show them what forestry careers are all about. They got to see a harvester in operation and find out more about recreational forestry and the work taking place to control tree-related diseases.

“This experience - and their new-found knowledge - will help them to explain land-based careers to other young people, which is really important as we work to encourage more people to consider a working life in the great outdoors.

“As a current Industry Champion it was great to be able to pass on my knowledge of working in the trees and timber industry and to share my experiences as an apprentice, a recreational craftsperson and as apprentice support manager.

“It was also good to showcase our continued investment in apprenticeships.”

There are currently 30 Industry Champions from a variety of land-based industries.

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Celebrating the Archaeology of Dun Deardail

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A book focusing on the work of the Dun Deardail Archaeology Project has been Highly Commended as one of the top three archaeology books of 2018.

The commendation came from the biennial British Archaeological Awards, which celebrate and showcase the best in British archaeology and are Britain’s only independent, sector-wide archaeological awards.

The project, funded by Forestry Commission Scotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Nevis Landscape Partnership, saw the excavation of Dun Deardail, a vitrified hillfort in Glen Nevis that is thought to have been built around 500 BC – only to be burnt down and destroyed around 200 years later.

The fire vitrified the ramparts of the fort, causing the stones to melt together into blocks.

Matt Ritchie, FCS archaeologist, said;

“To have our book -The Archaeology of Dun Deardail - recognised in Britain’s most prestigious Archaeological awards is a great achievement and a welcome accolade for everyone involved in its creation.

“We wanted it to be very collaborative so there are contributions from a range of people – professionals and volunteers - all working together but with each article having its own distinct voice.

“We went for a creative approach so have included myth and legend alongside the science, and used artwork and reconstruction drawings to illustrate people, places and events.”

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The stylish front cover is an extract from ‘Dun Deardail’ by archaeologist and landscape artist Andy Heald. The legend of The Sorrow of Derdriu has also been explored in music by Mac-talla Nan Creag (The Echo).

The project was designed in line with Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy, which aims to care for and protect sites whilst delivering archaeology, enhancing understanding, encouraging greater engagement and promoting innovation and skills.

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Successful sector-wide initiative on managing water

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An initiative that ensures that water management is a top priority in forestry operations has been helping to cut diffuse pollution throughout the year.

Set up in late 2016, the Forestry & Water Scotland initiative has raised awareness of the issue by providing forest managers and contractors with the information they need to better manage the sites they are working on.

Dr Julia Garritt, FCS Land Use Practice Advisor, said;

“Through a combination of digital and printed multi-lingual media, hundreds of managers, contractors and practitioners now have a better understanding of how to manage water on forestry sites.

“The guidance covers forestry activities such as ground preparation, drainage, road building, and using fuels, pesticides and fertilisers. Our most recent guidance is about how to protect public and private water supplies, and groundwater dependent terrestrial ecosystems, during forestry activities.”

Forestry Commission Scotland – as the lead partner in the initiative - has enjoyed the support of a range of forestry bodies, including Confor, the UK Forest Products Association and the Forestry Contractors Association.

The initiative has also benefited from staff meetings that have included SEPA and Scottish Water staff, that have allowed people with shared interests to discuss how working practices can resolve local issues.

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New tree removal method on peatland

Forest Enterprise Scotland has a large scale peatland restoration programme on the go across Scotland.

This valuable work involves removing plantations on peatlands and improving existing priority habitats.

This action restores vital peatland habitats, which in turn helps Scotland reduce net carbon emissions by ensuring the carbon already stored in the peat is not emitted.

Eleven projects are being worked on this year, including peatlands in the Flow Country, Galloway, Scottish Lowlands, Moray and in Lochaber.

In carrying out this work, FES has developed a new way of removing trees from afforested peatland areas. 

Our new method

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Two excavator-based diggers work together – one has a shears head and the other a standard harvester chainsaw head.  The forwarder and harvesting machine still need to travel on brash mats, but the machine with the shears head does not, because it has 1.9m wide tracks. This allows it to easily cross the boggy ground without causing damage.

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The shears machine cuts then passes the whole tree over to other harvesting machine, which processes the tree, prepares the brash mat, and leaves the logs for the forwarder to collect. In this method, brash mats are now set at least 50m apart, instead of a standard 18m.

The new method leaves a cleaner site, with fewer thick brash mats and lower stumps.

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New forest road and bridge removes timber lorries from minor road in Glen Orchy

Getting timber out of forests and to market means that heavily laden lorries are often to be seen on minor roads in rural areas.

But one way to get them off those roads is for the lorries to make use of the 9,600km of in-forest road - and around 1,600 bridges – throughout Scotland’s forests

This amazing, hidden network - maintained by Forest Enterprise Scotland’s civil engineers – has recently been added to with a Glen Orchy project to replace a bridge, improve access and create new forest roads.

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The new bridge (replacing an old, 30m Bailey Bridge) is part of the ongoing extension of the forest road from Bridge of Orchy that will allow timber extraction without using the unclassified Glen Orchy road.

Gregg Reid, Area Civil Engineer for FES, said:

“The new bridge comes in at 36m and 44 tonnes and, as with any job of this size in the middle of a forest, it presented some interesting challenges.

“The next stage of this project is a 3.5km link road from the new bridge to the road at Sroine Hill.

“Once that’s completed, we’ll have a 15km stretch of in-forest road that will keep timber lorries off the minor public road, making travelling that much less stressful for everyone.”

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Support for Forest Enterprise Scotland's suppliers

Forest Enterprise Scotland has a broad and valued range of suppliers, many of which are small to medium enterprises and micro businesses. We are also very proud of our support for rural economies through our work in rural and often remote parts of Scotland.

To extend our support for our suppliers we have engaged with a public sector programme called the Supplier Development Programme.

The Supplier Development Programme offers a range of free support and training for all suppliers to learn how to tender for and improve their opportunities to win public sector work.

Forest Enterprise Scotland have now exhibited at two ‘meet the buyer’ events, which give small businesses unprecedented access to buyers from across the public and private sector, as well as training and support to improve prospects when tendering for public sector work. You can see what to expect at these events by watching a short video filmed by the organisers.

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At both events we were able to directly support forestry suppliers, with information about future tenders and how and where to look for our work on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS).

Our next steps are to work with the Supplier Development Programme to explore specific training events for forestry suppliers and forge links with public sector Economic Development Officers across Scotland through the SDP network.

If you’re a Scottish SME or 3rd sector organisation interested in working with the public sector, the Supplier Development Programme can provide free help and support.

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Investing and growing the visitor footfall and the profile of the National Forest Estate

We continue to seek to build on bumper visitor numbers National Forest Estate (NFE) through new opportunities and investments. 10.7 million visits were made to the in 2017 – an increase of 18% since 2013 (9.1million).

The NFE boasts over 1,200km of walking tracks, 130 cycle routes, wildlife viewing spots and 8 visitor centres making it an ideal place to come for a family day out or to take part in some healthy exercise. Forest Enterprise Scotland are continuing to take forward new opportunities through investments and facilitating new business opportunities for others to take forward.

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New land management plan guidance is tested in South Region

New land management plan guidance aims to provide more structured Land Management Plans. Plans now include upfront summaries of what the plan will achieve and a careful record of the rationale behind the decisions that Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) makes to manage the land to meet a wide range of objectives. Each plan now includes a list of the challenges that need to be tackled in the first ten years of the plan timescale, and how they have been resolved.

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Woods for learning

We work with education professionals to promote the use and benefits of teaching outdoors – particularly in woods and forests.

Our education advisors have been sharing their knowledge internationally that outdoor learning contributes to good health and wellbeing, and raises awareness of issues like climate change and sustainable development.

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