FORESTRY and Land Scotland (FLS) is beginning to make preparations to fell 125,000 tonnes of timber from a hillside forest at east Loch Lomond-side that could take as long as 10 years to complete.

A Land Management Plan outlining the long-term proposals for Ptarmigan Forest (opposite Tarbet) – the removal of productive conifer and the retention (and regeneration) of native woodland - will be put out to public consultation next year.

However, because the site is so complex and challenging, FLS is already making preliminary preparations so that if the go-ahead is given, work can begin as soon as possible. With the site being one of the most difficult in Scotland, it could still take two or three years for felling operations to start.

John Hair, planning manager for Forestry and Land Scotland, said: “This is one of the most challenging sites we manage.

“As well as very steep slopes and some potential landslip areas, there are sensitive designated environmental sites and the site, being in the heart of the National Park, is part of the iconic view of Loch Lomond and also has the West Highland Way running through it.

READ MORE: £18m forest in Scottish Borders welcoming offers

“But we need to harvest these trees. They have grown so big that they are now highly susceptible to being blown over in high winds. If this were to happen it would have severe impacts on the environment and habitats, would impact on accessibility and would create a hazardous problem for our harvesting teams that would have to clear the site. 

“It’s far better that we fell these trees in a controlled programme. Our teams have brought their considerable experience to bear already in doing a significant amount of careful, detailed planning – and there is still a lot more work to do.”

The 450-ha Ptarmigan Forest will see around half of its trees removed and it is likely that there will be some impact on users of the West Highland Way.

FLS and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park said they are working closely to minimise this impact, with safety of walkers being the key consideration throughout the period of timber harvesting.

Regeneration of the forest after felling will take place by natural regeneration and re-planting using native trees.

Forestry Journal remains dedicated to bringing you all the latest news and views from across our industry, plus up-to-date information on the impacts of COVID-19.

Please support us by subscribing to our print edition, delivered direct to your door, from as little at £75 for 1 year – or consider a digital subscription from just £1 for 3 months.

To arrange, follow this link:

Thanks – and stay safe.