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A security camera next to a harvester

We are trialling new measures to promote access and keep the public safe during the next phase of storm damage clear-up at Kirkhill Forest.   

With work due to begin on 3 July and likely to take six weeks, we have put diversions in place to enable continued access to some areas of the forest. However, additional measures will be in place to encourage people to stay away from harvesting works. 

The move is a result of an increase in reports of members of the public actively ignoring no unauthorised access signage and barriers and accessing live harvesting sites. There have also been repeated incidences of members of the public disregarding advice to stay out of windblown sites, which are inherently dangerous. 

We want everyone to have a great visit to the forest but more importantly we want people to stay safe. Many of the big safety risks are not obvious to visitors and safety signage is there to help protect life and limb.   

“Some people ignore signage because they may think they know better, but our operational sites can change day-to-day with new hazards in different places. Some people don’t see signage – maybe because their attention is on other things or the signage has been vandalised.  

“We want to do as much as we can to support and protect our workers and eliminate as much risk to visitors as possible by guiding them away from a dangerous area. To support that, we are trialling this new public safety and security system." says Area Visitor Services Manager, Fiona Robertson. 

We are partnering with Police Scotland and DeterTech for the trial project, which along with increased and improved on-site information and greater use of banksmen, makes use of remote technology – (cameras, alarms, break beams) to give straying visitors auditory warnings to turn back. The trial will also assess the equipment’s capacity to improve work site security against theft and vandalism.   

Chief Inspector Simon Reid, Area Commander, Moray and Lead for Rural Crime, North East Division, says;

“The ‘North-East Partnership Against Rural Crime’ has brought together likeminded partners from organisations across our rural communities to tackle criminality. Through this strategy we will work together proactively to increase visibility, drive awareness, and deliver activity to reduce crimes and offences that cause the greatest harm.  

“The theft of fuel and forestry equipment are key priorities for the North East Partnership Against Rural Crime and by using innovative technologies we aim to disrupt those criminals that see the rural environment as an easy target to profit through illegal behaviour.” 

security camera in a wood pile

The equipment, which also alerts the machine operators on site when someone has entered the restricted area and where they have entered the area, will only be in operation when the harvesting team is on site and clearing timber. Outwith these times no warning will be issued and visitors will be able to cross the site safely.

“Our intruder detection systems are the ideal solution for Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) operations at the Kirkhill Forest. Visually verified CCTV technology and audible warnings mean we can instantly pre-empt most issues by alerting people before they enter a dangerous zone. Furthermore, we can provide intelligence back to the FLS team so they can manage risks appropriately over such a large area," added DeterTech’s UK Managing Director, Luke Staton.

“By working together to assess the site – and its particular risk profile – I believe we have developed a comprehensive bespoke solution that will keep people safe and on the right track, whatever the hour of day or night.”

The Kirkhill Car Park will remain open throughout and visitors are encouraged to visit our website destination pages before they leave home for up-to-date information on other forests in the area.   

People should stay out of windblown areas of forest because they are inherently dangerous. Trees might look as though they are stable but they can roll, slip or fall with the slightest of touches. Depending on how they have fallen, they can also be ‘spring-loaded’ and if that energy is released suddenly the results could be extremely serious, in not fatal.

“Add to that the heavy machinery required to deal with the windblow and you have an increased chance of an accident. A harvester can fell and de-limb a 40ft tree in less than a minute but a tree being grappled by a machine can dislodge or knock over adjacent unstable trees. Anyone within two tree lengths of active operations could potentially be involved in a serious accident.” added Fiona.  

There is also the risk of the high-speed, heavy-duty chain drives snapping and links (“chain shot”) flying off as far as 200 metres with the force – and equivalent impact – of a bullet. We ask anyone visiting a forest to pay attention to safety signage and stick to the diversions and detour routes.