New harvesting technique for peatland sites

Peatland restoration work carried out by Forest Enterprise Scotland’s (FES) team in the North Highlands has prompted the development of a new harvesting technique.

Applicable for wet and standard sites, the new technique combines the use of a low ground-pressure excavator, equipped with a set to tree shears, with standard excavator based harvester.

New harvesting equipment

By using these machines in combination the distance between brash racks has been increased threefold, which in turn has reduced the amount of round wood being used to keep machines afloat.

The over-all effect is an increased efficiency of fibre recovery, improved compliance with UKFS and potentially a reduction in operating costs.

Additional benefits include low stumps which aid restoration efforts, a potential reduction in restocking costs and the ability to better protect riparian and other ecologically sensitive zones,

Tim Cockerill, for the FES team in North Highland, said;

“This new technique allows us to recover more fibre by letting us more easily access and work difficult sites.

“Over the past four years we’ve restored over 4000ha of peatland – with half of that being ‘forest to bog’ restoration – but the Lodgepole pine on these wet sites has so far attracted little commercial interest because it was not high quality and was difficult to recover.

“Normally, we would mulch it or fell to recycle but today’s high demand for fibre and current thinking that removing all forest residues improves the restoration potential, meant that we were keen to explore different responses.

“The new technique delivers a number of environmental and economic benefits and, because it concentrates the brash and leaves the brash mats much cleaner, it’s also generating more interest with customers looking to undertake brash recovery operations.“

FES is now formally evaluating the technique and is looking to work with FR and SEPA to monitor the effects of the new harvesting methods on adjacent aquatic habitats.

FES’s peatland restoration work has been funded by SNH’s Peatland Action Project.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of the Forestry Commission and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus bidh e a’ toirt seachad comhairle air poileasaidhean coilltearachd agus air riaghladh. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta as leth Ministearan na h-Alba.
  4. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.