Rothiemurchus harvesting to tackle tree disease and restore natural habitats

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Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) is to start a major felling programme in a Glenmore forest, near Aviemore, later this month in a bid to protect the Caledonian pinewood from a damaging tree disease. 

The 308ha McAlpine plantation, part of the area bought from Rothiemurchus Estate in 2013, will be cleared of trees infected with Dothistroma needle blight (DNB), a widespread disease that has caused widespread decline in non-native pine varieties.

As well as tackling the disease, the operation will kick-start a substantial native woodland regeneration project that will have the additional benefit of restoring a range of habitats.

Giles Brockman, for the FES team in Inverness, Ross & Skye, said;

“Scots pine has demonstrated some tolerance to the disease but we don’t want to take any chances with the Caledonian pinewoods. By removing the more heavily infected non-native pine we hope to reduce the overall level of infection.

“The management strategy for the pinewood as a whole is achieving good results and these works will contribute to the long-term transition to native habitats.

“It’s all been very carefully planned to minimize the risk of the tree disease spreading and also to minimize disruption for any capercaillie that might be in the area.”

The project area contains Lodgepole pine, non-native conifers that were planted in the early 1970s, and that are now infected with Dothistroma needle blight. These trees are being harvested to reduce the risk levels to the wider Caledonian pinewood.

The aim for is that the McAlpine plantation will be free of non-native conifers by 2021/22. Native woodland will then be established through a combination of natural regeneration of Scots pine (P. sylvestris) and planting of native broadleaves (birch, aspen, alder).

Giles added:

“We will be tackling this in stages over the next five years and although it sounds like a big area it’s a very small proportion of the native pinewood area in the surrounding landscape.

“The operations are planned to have no impact on public access, will have minimal impact on local Capercaillie and will ultimately provide more, high quality habitat for the birds.”

The conservation of native pinewoods and Capercaillie are priorities in the plan, which meets the requirements of the Natura planning system.

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. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  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.