A FIVE-YEAR planting scheme on the hillside above Scotland's 'most infamous road' has begun. 

The Rest and Be Thankful Woodland Creation Project, located on the steep and notoriously unstable south western flanks of Ben Luibhean, Glen Croe, has been designed to provide long-term protection to the A83.

Frequently closed due to landslips and with millions of pounds having already been ploughed into measures to protect the road, it's hoped the move will be a "win-win solution", improving the thoroughfare's resilience and its landscape. 

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Welcoming the start of the project, minister for transport, Jenny Gilruth, said: “With the climate emergency likely to increasingly impact on Scotland’s landscape in the years ahead, protecting our infrastructure is a top priority.

“Using nature-based solutions like woodland creation is a win-win solution. It will help protect this important trunk road that is a vital lifeline for many people, will help capture more carbon and help increase the habitat in which wildlife can flourish.” 

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has been working in partnership with Transport Scotland for several years to develop the plan, which will complement a range of hard engineering works that have already been put in place in response to previous incidents. 

FLS teams are planting a mix of native woodland species at the western end of the hillside and will, over the course of the next two years, work their way steadily eastwards.

The species being planted – locally sourced so as to already be adapted to the local environment – include downy birch, aspen, oak, blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, juniper and Scot pine.  These species are also most likely to be resilient to future climate changes.

Forestry Journal: Rest and Be Thankful is frequently closed due to landslips Rest and Be Thankful is frequently closed due to landslips

As soon as they are in the ground their root systems will begin to grow and develop, binding the hillside over time and reducing the likelihood of landslips. The woodland will also improve the landscape, encourage an increase in biodiversity and improve water quality and riparian habitats, especially those associated with spawning salmonids.

Planting the whole site is expected to take up to five years and natural regeneration of native species will also be encourage