Cruach Benmore strategic larch removal plan
The Cruach Benmore Strategic Larch Removal Plan was approved by Scottish Forestry on 28th January 2022 following consultation with a range of stakeholders and will be due for revision in 2027.
The plan area is located on the Cowal Peninsula, and comprises two areas, centred on OS grid reference NS 163839, separated by Strath Eachaig. The largest section lies between Holy Loch and Loch Long; the smaller is to the northwest between Glen Massan and Loch Eck. Most of the area has a south westerly aspect with often steep slopes, with maximum gradients in excess of 40%. There are large areas of open habitat around the summits. Lying within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, the communities of Kilmun and Strone are immediate neighbours, and the forest also forms a prominent backdrop to views from Sandbank, Ardnadam, Dunoon, Gourock and Cove.
The woodlands of Cruach Benmore consists mainly of productive conifer species with some elements of broadleaves. The diversity of tree species is enhanced by Kilmun Arboretum and Benmore Botanic Gardens, which host tree collections of national importance. Larch species are found throughout the forest area; these are susceptible to the tree disease, Phytophthora ramorum, and large areas have already, or soon will be felled, due to infection and the serving of Statutory Plant Health Notices (SPHNs). In response to the increasing prevalence of Phytophthora ramorum, Forestry and Land Scotland has created a 5 year strategic plan to pre-emptively remove larch, with the objective of slowing the rate of spread of the disease in the wider environment. This planned approach will allow Forestry and Land Scotland to be open and transparent about the future of the woodlands. As larch disappears from the landscape, alternative conifer and broadleaved species will be chosen to replace these, with reference to those species growing successfully in the Kilmun Arboretum.
Strategic larch plan documents and maps
Plan documentation to be used during consultation can be found at the links below.
- Summary of the plan (PDF) - brief outline and regulatory requirements
- Certificate of approval (PDF) - includes conditions and additional notes
- Cruach Benmore Strategic Larch Removal Plan (PDF) - full text of the plan
- Table of operations (PDF) - summary of operations over the five year plan period
- M01 Location and Viewpoints (PDF) – shows the plan area in its geographical context, and indicates significant viewpoints used for visualisations
- M02 SPHNs and remaining larch (PDF) – illustrates the location of SPHNs served up to August 2021, and the current location of larch
- M03 Current Species (PDF) – shows the current species mix in the forest
- M04 Felling and Thinning Coupes (PDF) – shows the proposed clearfell and thinning coupes for the five year plan period
- M05 Future Habitats (PDF) – shows the long term change in species composition in the forest after felling an restocking has taken place
- M06 Roads, Access and Haulage (PDF) – shows the existing and proposed new forest road network, and the amount of timber haulage associated with each entrance location during this plan period
- M07 Designations (PDF) – shows the heritage and conservation designations in the area
- M08 Visitor Zones (PDF) – shows the main areas for recreational activities in the forest
These illustrate felling sequence and future restock/habitats from the key viewpoints shown in Map M01