IT could take more than a year to salvage timber blown over when "devastating" storms hit the UK's forests in November. 

That's according to industry chiefs, who today confirmed groups north and south of the border are joining forces to tackle the aftermath of Storm Arwen, which battered woodlands with 100 mph winds up and down the country. 

Around 1,500 hectares of forests in south Scotland and 1,400 ha in the north of England are understood to have been affected, with ministers warning it could take them "centuries" to recover. 

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

Scottish Forestry, the Forestry Commission and Confor have now brought together representatives from the private forestry sector and local councils to work on a strategic approach to manage the fallen trees and minimise the loss of timber.

Forestry Journal:

After the group met on Friday, Doug Howieson, Scottish Forestry’s head of operational delivery said: “Storm Arwen was a reminder of just how ferocious Mother Nature can be. Many forests and woodlands in the south of Scotland suffered significant windblow.

“There is a major challenge now to co-ordinate the recovery of this huge amount of fallen wood so that it can get to market. It may take over a year to manage the current quantities of timber that is currently lying on the forest floor.

“Our role is to get the forestry owners together so that they can take a strategic and collective view and co-ordinate activity  to manage the aftermath of Storm Arwen in a safe and timely manner.”

The forest industries are using a new Storm Arwen Mapping tool, developed by Forest Research and Scottish Forestry, to help them locate and plan how to remove the windblow.

The group agreed that in order to co-ordinate the clear-up, more information on the tree species, size and location, as well as the condition of the fallen trees, is needed from the Forest Research agency.

The group also stressed the additional Health and Safety risks of working with windthrow trees, and highlighted the need for clear messaging on the need to engage professionally competent contractors. 

Forestry Journal:

With an expected increase in timber haulage needed to cope with the extra timber now available, the forestry industry will work collectively to minimise the impacts of timber lorries on rural communities.

READ MORE: Storm Arwen: Amateur tree surgeons 'putting others at risk' by using chainsaws, FLS say

Andy Leitch, deputy chief executive of Confor, said: “The industry continues to work very closely with the public forestry bodies to ensure the unexpected timber glut created by Storm Arwen is brought out of the forest and to the market in an efficient and appropriate way. This means collaborating effectively across the whole forestry sector to ensure skilled people and machines are deployed in the right place at the right time.”

Crispin Thorn, area director - Yorkshire and North East, Forestry Commission, added: “We continue to assess the impact of Storm Arwen, in particular in the North of England. Forestry England has been working hard to restore access to the nation’s forests, continuing its efforts to remove fallen trees, while the wider Forestry Commission is working with stakeholders to gather intelligence on the impact to private woodlands."