WINDBLOWN timber could be felled ahead of previously planned harvests to quicken the clean up of damage caused by Storm Arwen. 

That's according to a new group established in the north east of Scotland, which is bringing together resources to aid the recovery operation in the country's worst-hit area. 

Having met for the first time this week, representatives from Scottish Forestry, Confor and its new Processor Group, Forestry and Land Scotland, private forest owners, timber transport companies and Aberdeenshire Council also highlighted the need for better information on species and tree size and also the amount of trees that had snapped.

READ MORE: Storm Arwen: Mairi McAllan warns Scotland's forests will take 'centuries' to recover

As we have told previously, the north east of Scotland was among the areas most affected when the storms blew through the country last month with early estimates suggesting as much as 20 per cent of the annual timber harvest was blown down. 

Forestry Journal: Trees were blown over all across the country Trees were blown over all across the country

Speaking after the meeting, Doug Howieson, Scottish Forestry’s head of operational delivery, said: “By working together, the forestry sector can make better plans on managing all the extra wood that is now needing to be recovered after the storm.

“What is clear is that there’s a significant amount of pine amongst the windblow. Pine degrades quicker than other tree species and can suffer from ‘blue-stain’ if left for too long.

"This staining does not affect timber properties, however, the race is on to recover the pine before the summer and get it to timber processors quickly.”

A similar group, covering the south of Scotland and the north of England, is being set up and will have its first meeting early in January.

The north east group also discussed the importance of the agreed routes map for timber haulage. By coordinating timber haulage, the sector aims to reduce the impact on local communities.

Forestry and Land Scotland and the timber processors are looking to create capacity for windblown timber by substituting some planned felling and making machinery available, while meeting existing commitments and markets.

This will be a challenge and Scottish Forestry is advising woodland owners not to rush to harvest areas of until they have a market agreed for their timber. The forest industries group will look to help this process in the coming weeks.

READ MORE: Windblown timber needs to be felled 'as soon as possible', warns Confor

Jamie Farquhar, national manager for Scotland for forestry and wood trade body Confor, said: "The north east of Scotland was one of the areas worst affected by Storm Arwen and we are still discovering more about the full extent of the windblow damage.

"The establishment of a focussed group to tackle the clear-up and recovery in the region continues the spirit of cooperation that has characterised the response to Arwen.

"The industry supply chain is pleased to see Scottish Forestry assembling the sector to allow them to coordinate, plan and manage the additional unexpected workload of felling and processing windblown trees, and to deploy machinery and human resources in the safest and most effective and structured way. This would include, for example, prioritising the removal of pine and trees that have been snapped, rather than those which have been blow over with the stump intact. If the stump is intact, the tree will survive longer.

"It's also vital for the industry to work together to identify a buyer for windblown timber before it is harvested. Confor will continue to work collaboratively across the wood supply chain at a cross-border, national and regional level to facilitate effective solutions to dealing with the windblow."