FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) is starting work to convert former open-cast coalfield sites into new areas of forest at Damside.

The 475-ha site, which has been remediated and restored by Hargreaves Environmental Services, is bounded by upland forestry and windfarms to the south, and mixed pastures and woodland to the north. The A71 runs along the site’s northern boundary.

FLS vacant and derelict land projects aim to re-green former open-cast coal sites and open up new, vibrant green spaces to help revitalise communities and local landscapes blighted by the legacy of open-cast mining.

Robin Waddell for Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “We have worked closely with Hargreaves and our contractors over the last couple of years to ensure that the Damside site is in the best condition possible for tree planting.

“The work being done on restoring these barren landscapes and creating new woodlands is playing a part in delivering Scotland’s climate change ambitions but is also returning greenspace to benefit the communities and habitats of Central Scotland.

“The Damside site includes 70 ha of existing conifer woodland and we intend to augment this with a mix of conifer, native woodland and open habitat for conservation benefit.

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“This is another step towards achieving our long-term vision to transform sites across South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Fife by planting about 5,000,000 trees to create 2,500 hectares of vibrant and economically productive greenspace.

“Like all of the other sites we’re involved with, Damside will be transformed into a great resource for local communities and for biodiversity.”

FLS has already created over 600 ha of new woodland across a number of vacant and derelict land sites. In addition to planting work starting at Damside, FLS will also soon begin to develop plans for another site – the recently purchased Hartwood Farm.

Andy Johnson, head of asset management for Hargreaves Land, said: “We continue to work closely with FLS to identify opportunities for remediation and forestry creation within our existing portfolio and are pleased to be able to announce this latest transaction. 

“This joint initiative continues to find solutions for derelict, former open-cast sites which leave a positive legacy for local communities and future generations and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

Land Management Plan is currently being developed with a view to planting in the winter of 2021/22.

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