Meeting tree disease challenge shows foresters at their best - Forestry and Land Scotland

stacks of cut timber
(photo: FLS)

FLS Central Region team's extremely challenging experience of managing tree diseases reflects the challenges of FLS teams across the country.

Forestry and Land Scotland says that the stresses of dealing with tree diseases is bring out the very best of all its foresters.

Tree diseases can have a devastating effect on a forest, infecting and often killing hundreds or thousands of susceptible species.

There is no known cure or treatment for these diseases and the only available means of slowing the disease’ progress to new, unaffected forests, is to fell diseased trees – and others in a surrounding buffer zone.

However, what seems like a ‘straightforward’ task often is anything but. Especially when, as with FLS’ Central Region team, you are dealing with dozens (currently 73) of Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs). Issued by forestry regulator, Scottish Forestry, these require land managers to fell infected trees within a set time-frame.

Some of the issues that can throw SPHN felling work off course include nesting raptors, water mains, powerlines (that need to be shut down), steep terrain that requires specialist contractors and equipment (often in short supply), proximity to popular recreational sites, railway lines, the presence of protected species, and geotechnical issues (trees on unstable slopes above roadways).

Many of these require negotiation with other agencies to arrive at a solution as to how best to carry out the work with the minimal amount of inconvenience.

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Posted On: 17/03/2023

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