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

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


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.


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.