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.

£7million awarded to help minimise impact of timber lorries on rural roads

Every year millions of tonnes of timber cross the country, benefitting the economy and communities who depend on forest products. This timber haulage is an important part of the forestry life cycle, but often relies on using roads that weren’t designed for heavy traffic.

Over £7 million has been awarded to projects to help minimise the impact of timber lorries on Scotland’s rural road network, through the 2018 Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF).

Mairi Gougeon

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Cone collection provides seeds to sow as trees on the National Forest Estate

150 sacks of Sitka spruce cones and 72 sacks of Alaskan Lodgepole pine cones have been collected by hand to help provide seeds to sow as trees on the National Forest Estate.

 seed collection

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'Secret' butterflies found in the Trossachs

A ‘secret’ population of butterflies has been found in the Trossachs. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly, which is now very rare in England and Wales, but more widely found in the north of Scotland, was thought to be locally extinct in the Trossachs.


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A new vision for forestry

Views are being sought on a new draft Forestry Strategy for Scotland which aims to make the most of precious forestry resources and help cement the country’s reputation as a responsible global citizen.

The draft strategy sets out a long-term vision to inspire and stimulate a shared national endeavour to sustainably grow more trees to enhance our woods and forests both to make a greater contribution to Scotland’s climate change ambitions and to deliver more economic benefit for years to come.

The launch of the consultation, which runs for 10 weeks, is a key element in the delivery of this year’s Programme for Government.

Launching the consultation at Newbattle Abbey College, Dalkeith, with forestry and rural skills students, Mr Ewing said: “In April next year, the forestry devolution process will have been completed and forestry in Scotland will begin a new chapter.

“Scottish Ministers will be fully accountable for forestry and two new forestry agencies will come into being.

“It is only fitting that we also establish a new, long-term vision for forestry that increases our woodland area and delivers more economic, social and environmental benefits whilst protecting and enhancing our forest resources so that they provide more benefits for more people in 50 to 100 years’ time.

“It is also fitting that this Strategy is being developed in Scotland’s Year of Young People because our young people will grow up with our trees, and reap the benefits for themselves and their children.

“I would encourage everyone with an interest in the future of forestry to submit their views.”

The draft strategy, once finalised in 2019, will act as a 10 year framework for action, concentrating on three key areas:

  • increasing the contribution of forests and woodlands to sustainable and inclusive economic growth, especially in rural communities;
  • protecting and enhancing Scotland’s valuable natural assets, ensuring they are resilient and contribute to a healthy high quality environment; and
  • ensuring that more people are empowered to use forests and woodlands to improve their health, well-being and life chances.

The draft consultation will be open online until 29 November 2018.

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Reading the ruins: consolidating the broch of Caisteal Grugaig

The broch of Caisteal Grugaig overlooks Loch Alsh at Totaig. It was built around 2,000 years ago, part of an Iron Age settlement tradition of small defended homesteads found all along the Atlantic coast of Scotland. The word broch comes from the Norse ‘borg’, meaning fort. But although they protected their occupants, they also demonstrated land ownership and tenure. Brochs were built in places with good agricultural potential, with relatively productive soils and sheltered conditions. The people who built them were farmers, growing oats and barley and rearing stock. The brochs were set within pockets of cultivated land and wider areas of unenclosed pasture, often with unrestricted access to the sea.

16641 Caisteal Grugaig copyright Lynn Fraser LF 8931b low res

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Why we use chemicals to protect young trees.

There’s been some media interest in the use of chemicals in forestry and in particular on the National Forest Estate.

We spoke to Jo Ellis, Forest Enterprise Scotland’s Acting Head of Land Management to find out a bit more about why, how and when chemicals are used to protect our young trees.

Why do you need to use chemicals for tree planting?

“It’s important that everyone understands that our default position on chemicals is very clear. We only use them when it is necessary.  

“We use the chemicals to control a pine weevil called Hylobius abietis which is the most serious threat to newly planted or naturally regenerating trees; if left untreated, the weevils will destroy on average around 50 per cent of them.

“Each year, the UK forestry industry loses around £5 million worth of trees to this weevil so it is a real problem.”

Are chemicals safe to use?

“The EU has one of the strictest regulatory systems in the world regarding the use of pesticides. All pesticides are thoroughly assessed to ensure a high level of protection for human, animal and environmental health. In March this year, the EU reviewed the use of acetamiprid (which we use to protect young trees) and approved its use up until 2033.”


Is there an alternative to using chemicals?               

“We already use a good number of other treatment options but sometimes the use of acetamiprid is necessary. There has been some good news very recently though with Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing announcing £500,000 funding to explore other ways to tackle weevil damage – this could ultimately reduce the amount of chemicals used if we find other alternative treatments."

How do you use the chemical to protect young trees?

“We don’t blanket spray – when we use chemicals we use them in a very targeted way.

“Where pesticide use is necessary, our young trees are pre-treated in an off-site tree nursery or building, and this may be combined with later post planting treatment via a hand sprayer to individual trees. All these targeted treatments are carried out in a way that minimises any environmental impact.”

Who regulates the use of chemicals in the UK?

“It’s a job for the Health and Safety Executive – they are responsible for the regulation of chemicals in the UK. They set the limits of how much chemical can be used for each use whether it is for agricultural use or in forestry or even in your garden. We ensure that we are within these limits and that the treatments are carried out properly."

Do you always use chemicals out in the forest to treat young trees against weevils?

"No – not at all. You have to look at each restocking site on a case by case basis and judge whether weevils are likely to cause a major threat to the young trees. Many of our sites don’t need top up spraying.

“We wouldn’t use chemicals if we didn’t think it was necessary and the chemical we use has been safety tested by the EU and is regulated very tightly by the Health and Safety Executive.”

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New forwarders and harvesters allow work on sensitive sites

A key forest management operation for Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) is thinning trees which creates better quality timber and makes the trees more resilient to pests and diseases. Thinning also opens up the tree canopy to encourage greater biodiversity and a more accessible forest. Not all forests can be thinned, as some are on soils, or at elevations where thinning would actually be detrimental to the growth of the trees by creating windblow scenarios.

The majority of the National Forest Estate (NFE) is essentially ‘manmade’ forests. Thinning creates a more naturalised and aesthetically appealing forest.   In the past thinning was done by hand, which was physically demanding and dangerous work. However this work has now been replaced by machines which has improved safety and very much speeded up the process.


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Helping the pearl mussel to survive through sustainable forest management

Fresh water pearl mussels aren’t something you’d normally think about when you enter a forest. But most of the world’s remaining populations of fresh water pearl mussels live in rivers and streams in partially or wholly forested catchments. This means sustainable forest management has a pivotal role to play in conserving this globally threatened population.

The FES North Highland Forest District has the largest concentration of extant pearl mussel rivers in both Scotland and the UK, and the Environment Team has led efforts to conserve pearl mussel populations.


 Photo credit Ian Mckee.

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Newton Nursery now part of FES

Newton Nursery in Morayshire is now managed by Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES). This will allow FES to take on full responsibility for its future plant and seed supply, including seed stands and orchards, seed collections, storage and sales.

newton nursery

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