PEOPLE are being urged to stay away from forests after Storm Arwen wreaked havoc across Scotland.

High winds - reaching speeds of up to 100 mph - have blown down trees, blocking trails and roads, and causing extensive damage in recent days. 

This is particularly bad in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders where the public is being warned of hanging trees, which could fall at any given moment without notice.

Forest and Land Scotland chiefs, who manage forests across the country, say they will start to assess the damage today but it could be months before it is all cleared.  

Forestry Journal:

Simon Hodgson, Foresty and Land Scotland chief executive, said: “The high winds – that in some coastal areas reached 100mph – have blown down a number of trees at many of our forests, blocking trails and forest roads, and causing other damage.

READ MORE: Phytophthora Pluvialis: New tree disease found in Scotland for the first time

“The combination of windblown trees and icy conditions is hazardous but there is also the risk posed by hanging trees – those that have been blown over but have been caught on standing trees. These can be highly unstable and can fall with little or no warning.

“Windblown trees and damaged roads also prohibit access for emergency vehicles so we are asking members of the public to help us by staying away for the moment.

“We don’t want anyone risking their personal safety – or potentially their life – by venturing in to our forests until such time as we can declare them safe.”

Forestry Journal:

FLS teams across the country will start assessing the damage today but warn that the clearing up of the damage could take months. Priority will be given to tree work on locations that provide an immediate risk to people or property with the focus then shifting to providing essential access for communities, neighbours and forestry business.

Andy Leitch, deputy chief executive of Confor, which represents the forestry and wood-using industry, said: "We are aware of damage to forests across large areas of the east coast, including Aberdeenshire and The Scottish Borders. We are liaising with the public forestry bodies to assess the scale of the damage.

“The scale of the storm means it will take time to clear the damage and we would reiterate the advice from Forestry and Land Scotland to avoid forest walks, particularly because of the continuing threat from part-fallen trees.

Forestry Journal:

"As always in these circumstances, the industry will pull together to ensure any areas which are regularly accessed by the public are made safe as soon as possible."

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