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Forestry and Land Scotland says that forest adaptation has to be a focus for the sector in the coming years if damage from storms like Arwen is to be minimised.

Climate science indicates an increase in frequency of winter storms. With potential for some of those to be of similar strength to Storm Arwen, FLS is already working to adapt its forests to better withstand such events.

FLS Chief Executive, Simon Hodgson, said;

“The damage to forests caused by Storm Arwen should be seen as a shot ‘across the boughs’, giving us notice of what we might have to contend with in the years to come as the climate changes.

“The Met Office headline for future climate prediction is ‘a greater chance of warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers’.

“Although we will be dealing with the impact of November’s storm for months, and even years, to come, it is a timely reminder that we are right to pursue forest adaptation.”

In places, wetter soils combined with wind gusts from frequent storms will make crops more vulnerable, particularly the large upland forests  that were planted in the past.

Modern, adaptive techniques include planting a greater mix of species to create a patchwork, which will help to dissipate wind gusts and offer greater protection for the forest.

Planting trees at different stages of a forest’s development will create variation in the heights of trees within a forest, which will also help to dissipate gusts of wind.

FLS’ adaptation work also includes long-term projects such as its Steep Ground felling programme, which is replacing mature tall conifers from the steep hillsides along the A82 at Loch Ness, and the woodland creation programme at the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll.

Both programmes will help reduce landslips and offer greater protection for the local infrastructure, including vital transport links, power lines and telecommunications.


Notes to editors

  1. 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.

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  3. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Manager, Forestry and Land Scotland Media Office 07785 527590 or