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As part of Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) long running project to restore Caledonian Pine woodland at Achnashellach, a section of over-mature planted conifers at Allt na Choinais has recently been removed.

But it was anything but an easy job.

Planted on a difficult and steep slope and isolated on the wrong side of a deep inaccessible gorge, getting them off the hill had proved too difficult and expensive for foresters, who had for many years decided to just leave them where they were.

Alex MacLeod, for the FLS team in the area, said;

“When plans to restore the native Caledonian Pine woodland came into being we knew we were going to have to tackle this issue and find a solution.

“There was no point in felling them to recycle because, with about 900 trees per hectare, that would have obscured the ground and prevented any regeneration of native species.

“Also, that number of over-mature trees represented a valuable crop so it we came up with a plan to recover the trees.”

Employing the services of Duffy Skylining, FLS has been clearing the site since September last year.

Thanks to the use of a cable crane that has the pulling power to extract large trees over huge distances – and using what is reckoned to be the longest skyline extraction system in the UK – almost all of the timber has been recovered.

The skyline system proved perfect for delivering whole trees (at two tonnes a time) over a distance of 650m to a processor - 150m below the skyline rope – from where they were taken to roadside for collection.

After nine months of work, the site is nearing completion and is set to see the welcome and fitting return of native woodlands.

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) was established as an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government on 1 April 2019, following completion of the devolution of forestry as a result of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018. It replaces Forest Enterprise Scotland.
  2. The purpose of FLS is to manage forests and land owned by Scottish Minsters in a way that supports and enables economically sustainable forestry; conserves and enhances the environment; and delivers benefits for people and nature. FLS may manage other forested and non-forested land by arrangement, as set out in the Act.
  3. The primary focus of FLS, in delivering its purpose, is to support Scottish Ministers in their role as leaders of Sustainable Forest Management and Sustainable Development through their stewardship of Scotland's national forests and land.
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  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 0131 370 5059 or