Christmas safety plea from Forestry and Land Scotland
Forestry and Land Scotland is urging visitors to stay safe if they visit a forest over the Christmas holiday.
Although some forests will remain closed, many around the country are open and anyone looking to visit an FLS forest should first check online for the latest updates.
Most FLS Visitor Centres, cafes, bike shops and recreation providers are open for business as per their usual winter opening hours. However, many trails have been rendered impassable and dangerous as a result of damage from Storm Arwen.
Alastair Henry, FLS’ Health & Safety Adviser, said;
“It’s been another long and difficult year for everyone and the temptation over the festive season is to get out into the countryside and enjoy the outdoors.
“That enthusiasm can sometimes lead to people taking risks – such as ignoring safety signage or closure notices – because the trail ahead looks clear, or because it doesn’t look like the storm damage is too bad.
“Slips trips and falls in the forest can happen easily in winter conditions where frost, ice and even partially frozen mud can all catch you unawares.
“Attempting to clamber over, around or under fallen trees is also extremely dangerous, especially in wet or icy conditions. Fallen trees might look to be solidly on the ground or stacked across each other but they can slip, pivot, roll or fall at the slightest disturbance.
“It is not worth taking the risk and ruining your Christmas. If the forest is closed, please stay out and if you venture to a forest that is open, please observe all and any safety signage.”
FLS teams are doing all that they can to clear debris and reinstate trails as quickly as is safely possible but has warned that in some locations, extensive damage will take several months to clear.
Forests in the north and west of the country are open – and many across the central belt – but visitors should be aware that winter conditions can also make them hazardous.
Notes to editors
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) manages forests and land owned by Scottish Ministers in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; delivers benefits for people and nature; and supports Scottish Ministers in their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.