Landscape-scale project to restore native woodland

September 8, 2022
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Blanket bog and native woodlands are to be restored in a 25 sq mile (67 sq km) area of the Highlands.

It has been described as a landscape-scale restoration project and will see Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) remove areas of non-native conifers.

Felled native woodland will be replanted and new woodlands established.

The part of west Sutherland, stretching from Ledmore to Oykel Bridge, is home to Atlantic salmon, eagles and otters.

FLS said the River Oykel Special Area of Conservation was at the heart of its West Sutherland land management plan.

The organisation hopes in 10 years’ time most of the wider area’s diseased and windblown non-native conifer forests will have been removed and the first stage of restoring about 3,459 acres (1,400 ha) of blanket bog will have been completed.

Mature conifers suitable for commercial use will be harvested by the end of next year.

Alongside this, FLS will grow new forests in modern “mosaic-style” planting. These forests involve a mix of tree species grown to meet a wide range of objectives, including timber production, biodiversity and expansion of native woodlandPresentational white spacePart of the project will aim to boost the natural generation of Einig Caledonian Forest.

Neil McInnes, FLS planning forester for Caithness and Sutherland said: “Over the period of this plan we will begin land management restructuring on a landscape scale to change from 1970s and 80s style, conifer forest to a modern, biodiverse forest in an area of huge importance for tourism, wildlife and water protection.”

RSPB Scotland has said the changes would create a more natural landscape and better support biodiversity.

Kyle of Sutherland Fisheries Trust said it believed the plan represented a sea change in forestry practices and should act as an “exemplar for future management plans”.

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