EARLY estimates suggest Storm Arwen caused insufficient damage to Scotland's timber trade to instigate windblow contingency plans. 

Confor chiefs believe 1 to 1.5 million cubic metres of timber were blown down when high winds swept across the country - equivalent to about 20 per cent of Scottish current annual harvest. For the Scottish Windblow Action Committee (SWAC) to be called, the figure would have to be 100 per cent of the yearly output. 

READ MORE: Storm Arwen: Scottish Windblow Action Committee won't be instigated this week

However, the industry body says the picture is still unclear and more time will be needed to provide definitive answers. Satellite images and discussions with those on the ground will offer a fuller picture in the weeks to come. 

A statement from Confor read: "Assessment of the true damage to the nation’s forests and woodlands is underway – this can only really be accurately judged from the air, as it is difficult or even impossible to see the extent of damage from ground level, especially as most forest access roads will themselves be blocked by fallen trees. 

"We expect results from satellite imagery to be available within ten days or so.  If cloud conditions inhibit this, then helicopter flights will be flown next week with trained observers – to assess local damage. 

"Those who have previously experienced major windblow events to woodland, see Arwen as having caused catastrophic damage on a regional basis in Scotland and North England – notably in Aberdeenshire and the Scottish Borders. 

"Equally severe, but more patchy damage has occurred in parts of Perthshire, Stirling, Dumfries & Galloway, Cumbria and Northumberland. 

Forestry Journal:

"Confor is working with its members and with Scottish Land and Estates, Forestry and Land Scotland and colleagues in England to drill down to learn of local damage, and we thank all those who have contributed so far to this. 

"Apart from the damage to productive forestry, there has been a tragic loss of many iconic trees which will change the landscape of some regions for decades." 

As we have told previously, Scottish Forestry chiefs met with industry figures last Thursday to discuss the situation and Mairi McAllan, minister for Environment and Land Reform, was briefed "whole or multiple compartments of trees" may have been blown over. 

A catastrophic windblow last occured in Scotland in January 1968. 

The statement added: "In terms of the productive forest resource, initial 'guestimates' range between one and one & a half million cubic metres of timber have been blown down in Scotland – equivalent to about 20 per cent of Scottish current annual harvest. 

"In England there has been blow in Cumbria and Northumberland, possibly in excess of half a million m3.

"As more accurate information on the damage emerges, this will be analysed by species and size, and discussions will be held with timber processors and the biomass sector as to how they can take in such an unexpected crop. 

"Managers will already be making plans to decide how to divert existing operations to windblown crops, but this will be slow business as the contracting resource is finite in this country and already stretched to deal with normal harvest programmes."