AMATEUR tree surgeons are putting themselves and others at risk by trying to clear up the mess left by Storm Arwen, Scottish authorities have warned.

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) chiefs say 'cowboy' arborists have been caught cutting away storm damaged trees without any safety gear, authorisation, or understanding of the risks.

READ MORE: Cowboy tree surgeons in Livingston 'could be killed' amid spate of illegal felling

Pointing to one individual who was caught with a chainsaw, FLS bosses are urging the public to leave the dangerous job to the professionals, who are working tirelessly to remove windblown trees in all parts of the country. 

FLS chief executive, Simon Hodgson, said: “We understand that people are frustrated that many trails and forests remain closed but taking it upon themselves to venture in to the woods with a chainsaw is not helping.

“Chainsaw work, even with highly skilled and experienced people, is still one of the highest risk occupations in the UK, and clearing windblown trees is the most dangerous aspect of that work.

"At FLS we aim to do as much windblow work as possible using mechanised harvesting machines, rather than chainsaws, to reduce risk to life.

Forestry Journal: Simon HodgsonSimon Hodgson

“No matter how well-intentioned, amateur lumberjacks are putting at risk life and limb – not only their own but also those of our staff and contractors – who have to make safe the amateur efforts - and those of forest visitors who, arriving later, might think that the trail has been professionally cleared and is safe.

“Rather than ‘helping’ to open up trails more quickly, these people are making matters worse by making us divert our resources into making safe their efforts." 

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

As we have told previously, it is estimated around 20 per cent of Scotland's annual timber harvest was blown down when Storm Arwen wreaked havoc last year. Efforts have been ramped up by FLS and the likes of Scottish Forestry and Confor to clear up the trees and salvage the timber before it goes to waste. 

Simon added: "We understand the desire help to re-open trails damaged by the storms. Woodlands are a valuable place for health and wellbeing. Please be patient and let the professionals do this complex and dangerous work safely for everyone’s benefit.”