THE head of Scotland’s national forestry agency has warned the country must prepare for more turbulent storms like Arwen in the coming years.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) chief executive Simon Hodgson says forest adaptation has to be a focus for the sector if damage from devastating weather is to be minimised. 

With climate science indicating an increase in frequency of winter storms and drier summers, FLS bosses believe now is the time to rethink how forests are grown to prepare them for all weather.

November's storm sent winds of up to 100 mph that damaged buildings, tore down trees, and left scores without power, with the clean-up operation expected to last months, if not years. 

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

Simon said: “The damage to forests caused by Storm Arwen should be seen as a shot ‘across the boughs’, giving us notice of what we might have to contend with in the years to come as the climate changes.

“The Met Office headline for future climate prediction is ‘a greater chance of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers’.

“Although we will be dealing with the impact of November’s storm for months, and even years, to come, it is a timely reminder that we are right to pursue forest adaptation.”

In places, wetter soils combined with wind gusts from frequent storms will make crops more vulnerable, particularly the large upland forests  that were planted in the past.

Modern, adaptive techniques include planting a greater mix of species to create a patchwork, which will help to dissipate wind gusts and offer greater protection for the forest.

Planting trees at different stages of a forest’s development will create variation in the heights of trees within a forest, which will also help to dissipate gusts of wind.

Forestry Journal:

As we have told previously, Scottish government ministers have warned Scotland's forests could take centuries to recover from Storm Arwen. The devastation saw many woodlands closed over safety concerns and industry figures warn over the need to recover windblown timber as soon as possible. 

Environment minister Màiri McAllan said earlier: “Storm Arwen provided a salutary lesson of the power of nature and the challenge of climate change. Our people suffered and so, too, did our natural environment.

“The impact is evident in the distressing images of flattened forests and woodlands which will take decades, if not centuries to recover from. Their loss reminds us of the significant role trees play in our lives, communities, economy and wellbeing."