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

Successful tree felling as part of challenging steep ground programme works

5,300 tonnes of timber has been felled and extracted as part of the on-going and challenging steep ground programme works under the A82 project.

The latest felling was completed at Primrose Bay (Loch Ness), in June where the operations team has been working for over 18 months. The felled timber has many uses, including one 9.0 metre long log which will be crafted into an Iron Age canoe.

view from primrose bay

felling on a steep hillThe Primrose Bay felling required several years of planning and preparation including upgrading the internal forest road and erecting a temporary catch fence to protect the A82 from rocks and boulders disturbed during timber extraction.

The trees above the A82 are on very steep slopes which mean that they have to be felled manually by chainsaw prior to being extracted using a Skyline system.

Forestry skyline systems in the UK generally use a stationary winch and series of wire cables and pulleys to move fully or partially suspended trees or logs to the roadside for processing and stacking.

Skyline teams are a relatively scarce resource and the work requires special skills so training is essential to ensure efficient and safe operations. Chainsaw operators need to be highly skilled and capable of felling very large trees in difficult conditions often on steep terrain.

Alex MacLeod, Area Operations Manager covering the A82 Project, said: “We are pleased with the success of this latest felling which required considerable effort from Forest Enterprise Scotland staff to plan and manage the operation.

“Over the years we have engaged with communities and key stakeholders as well as established a collaborative working relationship with Transport Scotland to help ensure a successful project.

“Work onsite is now finished and traffic management has been removed but we expect post felling slope stability remedial work to be carried out on the recently felled area over the Autumn and Winter.

“Future felling operations alongside the A82 are being planned taking a risk based approach with further felling likely from 2020 onwards after the next phase of preparatory geotechnical and civil engineering operations is completed.”

The A82 Project was set up to safely manage tree felling in the A82 corridor in the Great Glen to improve resilience of the A82 to storms. The project, which started in 2012, will take some 10 to 15 years to complete.