FORESTRY officials have told of the 'positive impact' strip felling has had on several harvesting sites in the north of Scotland. 

Instead of clearcutting an entire area, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) bosses have implemented the technique for blocks of commercial Scots pine on the Black Isle near Inverness.

This involves selectively removing trees in parallel strips and leaving some trees standing between the strips.

This method of harvesting is more gradual, as strips of trees are cut over time and is a more controlled and phased approach that when compared to conventional clear-fells produces a more intimate feel to the forest.

Luke Wilson, FLS north region assistant operations manager, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve our timber resources while at the same time managing our forests in a sustainable way that continues to benefit the economy, local communities and the wildlife within them.

“Following successful trials, we are now doing more strip felling across the Black Isle.

“Strip felling maintains a more diverse forest structure helping to retain biodiversity and provide habitat for various species. By adapting our productive forests, by giving them a greater mix of trees of different ages, we can make them even more beneficial for a wide range of animals and plants.

“Overall, the objective of strip felling in this area is to balance timber production with ecological, aesthetic and financial considerations.”

Strip felling also supports and sustains natural regeneration while maintaining continuity of tree cover.

FLS is now using strip felling at more sites near Inverness FLS is now using strip felling at more sites near Inverness (Image: FLS)

Luke added: “The series of narrow, elongated strips that are cut through a forest block mean seeds from trees left standing are dispersed across the clear ground and any sunlight that penetrates these open areas is maximised. We have seen excellent rates of seedling densities across strip felled sites.

“We want to ensure the continued sustainable timber production from Scotland's national forests and to grow this important sector for Scotland's benefit. Trialling and adopting new ways of working can help us achieve this.”