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New land management plan guidance aims to provide more structured Land Management Plans. Plans now include upfront summaries of what the plan will achieve and a careful record of the rationale behind the decisions that Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) makes to manage the land to meet a wide range of objectives. Each plan now includes a list of the challenges that need to be tackled in the first ten years of the plan timescale, and how they have been resolved.

Digital composited image showing map terrain shaded in different colours with a key

Ed Turner, Planning Forester, has been applying the new format to the Pencloe Land Management Plan, in East Ayrshire. Pencloe is a mature even-aged Sitka spruce forest, and objectives include creating an accessible, highly productive timber crop, developing a pattern of felling coupes that are going to withstand strong winds and diversifying both the age structure and the species composition.

This area has significant challenges in relation to access, as the existing road network requires significant upgrading to accommodate timber haulage; and deer management, which has been hampered by poor access and lack of deer glades.; But there is an opportunity to create a pattern of felling areas that reflect the terrain, soil and differing tree growth, so that felled areas relate well to the landscape and take into account timber volume relative to their size.

Proposed broadleaves and the more palatable soft conifers will be established in several larger areas, rather than scattered throughout the forest, to make them easier to monitor/protect. Broadleaves will be sited close to the road and entrance to the forest, where it is likely to be easier to manage the potential impacts of deer grazing on the young trees, and improve in-forest views to encourage greater visitor numbers.

Creating a more diverse age structure in the forest will help manage the impact of felling on water quality of the nearby Afton Water, and ensure that water run-off is managed in a sustainable way. Over time, management of water quality will be improved further by increasing the open space along watercourse which, together with effective deer management, will allow natural regeneration of broadleaves along watercourses and along the lower slopes of the forest.

The new guidance encourages the use of graphics to illustrate change through the plan period, and a clearer narrative within the plan, so that the reader can quickly grasp what we are doing and why. We have also included a separate chapter that summarises all the regulatory requirements. This should result in a better understanding of our proposals for managing the National Forest Estate.

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