28 Jan 2022

Working group will help small woodland owners

A new working group is being set up to help small woodland owners and farmers with clearing up after Storm Arwen.

The move comes after meetings between public forestry agencies and the private sector to assess the scale of damage after the storm, and identify capacity issues in the worst affected areas..

Environment Minister Màiri McAllan attended the latest meeting (27th Jan) organised by Scottish Forestry and trade body CONFOR.

She said:

“Storm Arwen might have happened last year but its effects will be felt by many for some time to come.

“I am impressed how the major players in the forestry sector are working together in such a collaborative way. This co-ordination of action is needed and I would like to thank the industry for their pragmatic way of dealing with the storm’s aftermath.

“What is clear though is that we can do more for the small woodland owner. Many will not have encountered such a devastating storm. With targeted advice, we can help farmers and small owners manage the aftermath, whilst creating more resilient woodlands for the future.”

The working group will prepare practical easy to understand advice on what woodland owners need to do to clear the fallen trees. Part of this will include providing information on what species of tree may be best placed for replanting.

Previous forestry meetings in the wake of Storm Arwen have taken place to support the situations in the north east and south of Scotland, as well as the north of England, which was also badly affected by Storm Arwen.

Andy Leitch, Deputy Chief Executive of trade forestry body Confor added:

“The whole wood supply chain is working collectively to understand what specific support woodland owners, both large and small, need in the wake of the storm.

“The first priority is making forests and woods safe, then understanding how and when to remove the windblown wood safely and to coincide with market demand. That involves close cooperation between foresters, woodland owners and wood processors - and that cooperation is progressing well.

"The Scottish forestry sector is in great shape and I'm very confident that the swift and joined-up response to Storm Arwen means it will continue to grow and thrive."

Across Scotland, the processing sector is keen to ensure that no timber is wasted or devalued for the woodland owner. Processors are keen to engage with owners about bringing their wood to market quickly, especially pine and larch.

Scottish Forestry has been fast tracking felling permissions which are linked to clearing up after the storm. Around 238 applications have been received so far and 155 approved to date. It would normally take up to six weeks to process a Felling Permission however Scottish Forestry is turning these around in about 10 days. 

The membership of the new working group will be formulated over the coming weeks.