Safety first plea as Beinn Ghuilean felling work resumes
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is appealing for help from the people of Campbeltown to keep a felling site at Beinn Ghuilean safe.
The call comes ahead of the resumption of tree felling work (29 June) at Beinn Ghuilean – and is in response to vandalism at the site, which has seen some of the safety signage and barriers at the site removed or destroyed.
FLS has already referred several reports of anti-social behaviour to the local police.
Felling at Beinn Ghuilean to tackle the tree disease Phytophthora Ramorum was halted in March as the COVID-19 lockdown came in to effect. However, timber that had been felled up to that point has been regularly despatched from the site to supply processors with the essential supplies needed to support the national effort to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
Jo Maclean, FLS’s Area Visitor Services Manager said;
“Although we are just about to resume felling operations, the site has been active since March as vital timber supplies have been transported to saw mills and other processors.
“Active forestry sites are dangerous forestry sites, which is why we take great care to ensure that the public is advised of the risk and given guidance and directions that will ensure they are protected.
“It is extremely disappointing that over the past couple of months some of our safety signage and safety barriers have been deliberately removed. It’s important that this signage remains visible to people because even though there might not seem to be any forestry activity on site, there are still dangers to be avoided.”
There are many dangers to be wary of on an operational harvesting site. Heavy machinery, falling trees, machine operators that are so focussed on their task they will not hear or see people – or their dogs – that encroach on the site. And even when there are no tell-tale signs of forestry work taking place, there are risks present in timber stacks and even felling residues, that can be lethally sharp.
Jo added;“Ahead of work resuming, we will be putting new signage in place and we would urge all members of the public to follow the guidance.
“Ignoring the signs and walking into restricted areas – even when there appears to be no work taking place at that moment - is dangerous. I am urging all visitors to please keep well away from work zones at all times.
“We would also encourage anyone who witnesses vandalism, or who knows of any incidents where safety signage has been removed, to report it to Police Scotland on the 101 number."
With FLS staff beginning to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown and adopting new, safe ways of working, it is anticipated that felling at Beinn Ghuilean is likely to continue throughout the year. As well as catching up with the delayed programme of felling, the FLS team might also have to extend the work if further instances of Phytophthora ramorum infection are found.
Access restrictions are in place from the Tomaig Road/Narrowfield entrance and as well as other locations near the work machinery. There will be no through route and/or access along this route for the duration of operations.
FLS is also asking the public to help prevent the spread of the disease by brushing off forest debris and mud from their boots, walking gear, bike wheels and dogs’ paws before and after visiting the forest.
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.