23 Dec 2021

North East forest industries focus on Storm Arwen recovery

Forestry and local authority organisations from the north east of Scotland have come together to plan the recovery operation of trees felled by Storm Arwen.

Satellite data has shown that Storm Arwen hit the north east of Scotland badly, right down the coastline, into Perthshire and the Angus Glens.

Work is being undertaken to get a more accurate picture of the volume of timber that might have been blown down.

The first meeting of the recovery group met this week (22 Dec) and included representatives from Scottish Forestry, Confor and its new Processor Group, Forestry and Land Scotland, private forest owners, timber transport companies and Aberdeenshire Council.

A similar group, covering the south of Scotland and the north of England, is being set up and will have its first meeting early in January.

Speaking after the meeting, Doug Howieson, Scottish Forestry’s Head of Operational Delivery, said:

“By working together, the forestry sector can make better plans on managing all the extra wood that is now needing to be recovered after the storm.

“What is clear is that there’s a significant amount of pine amongst the windblow. Pine degrades quicker than other tree species and can suffer from ‘blue-stain’ if left for too long. This staining does not affect timber properties, however, the race is on to recover the pine before the summer and get it to timber processors quickly.”

The meeting highlighted the need for better information on species and tree size and also the amount of trees that had snapped. The Forest Research agency will be working on this information before the next meeting of the group.

The group also discussed the importance of the agreed routes map for timber haulage. By coordinating timber haulage, the sector aims to reduce the impact on local communities.

Forestry and Land Scotland and the timber processors are looking to create capacity for windblown timber by substituting some planned felling and making machinery available, while meeting existing commitments and markets.

This will be a challenge and Scottish Forestry is advising woodland owners not to rush to harvest areas of until they have a market agreed for their timber. The forest industries group will look to help this process in the coming weeks.

Jamie Farquhar, National Manager for Scotland for forestry and wood trade body Confor, said:

"The North east of Scotland was one of the areas worst affected by Storm Arwen and we are still discovering more about the full extent of the windblow damage.

"The establishment of a focussed group to tackle the clear-up and recovery in the region continues the spirit of cooperation that has characterised the response to Arwen.

"The industry supply chain is pleased to see Scottish Forestry assembling the sector to allow them to coordinate, plan and manage the additional unexpected workload of felling and processing windblown trees, and to deploy machinery and human resources in the safest and most effective and structured way. This would include, for example, prioritising the removal of pine and trees that have been snapped, rather than those which have been blow over with the stump intact. If the stump is intact, the tree will survive longer.

"It's also vital for the industry to work together to identify a buyer for windblown timber before it is harvested. Confor will continue to work collaboratively across the wood supply chain at a cross-border, national and regional level to facilitate effective solutions to dealing with the windblow."

The aftermath of the storm has already had a direct impact on Scottish Forestry’s local Grampian office. Staffing resources have been shifted in the organisation to manage the increase in activity.

Since the storm hit, the local Scottish Forestry office has successfully dealt with over 80 enquiries for advice, have amended 21 forest plan applications and is working on 41 felling permission applications. All the work is being fast tracked.

Notes to news editors

1. The forest industries are using a new Storm Arwen Mapping tool, developed by Forest Research and Scottish Forestry, to help them locate and plan how to remove the windblow.

2. Forest Research have also released a new Citizen Science app that allows woodland owners and managers to provide feedback to improve and ‘validate’ the mapping tool. It is vital that anyone feeding back this data is done safely and carried out by professionals with appropriate training and equipment.

3.  On 1st April 2019, the devolution of forestry to Scottish Ministers was completed. With the new arrangements, Forestry Commission Scotland was replaced by a new Scottish Government agency called Scottish Forestry.

4. Scottish Forestry is responsible for delivering Scottish Ministers’ forestry policy, regulation, grants incentives, technical forestry advice and new cross border arrangements.  www.forestry.gov.scot | www.twitter.com/ScotForestry | LinkedIn