Forestry and Land Scotland is urging members of the public to stay away from its forests.
The call comes in the wake of Storm Arwen as the organisation continues to assess the levels of damage to Scotland’s national forests and land and the associated risks to public safety.
Early indications are that forests across the country – particularly east coast sites – have been affected to some degree.
Simon Hodgson, FLS Chief Executive, said:
“The high winds – that in some coastal areas reached 100mph – have blown down a number of trees at many of our forests, blocking trails and forest roads, and causing other damage.
“The combination of windblown trees and icy conditions is hazardous but there is also the risk posed by hanging trees – those that have been blown over but have been caught on standing trees. These can be highly unstable and can fall with little or no warning.
“Windblown trees and damaged roads also prohibit access for emergency vehicles so we are asking members of the public to help us by staying away for the moment.
“We don’t want anyone risking their personal safety – or potentially their life – by venturing in to our forests until such time as we can declare them safe.”
FLS teams across the country will start assessing the damage today but warn that the clearing up of the damage could take months. Priority will be given to tree work on locations that provide an immediate risk to people or property with the focus then shifting to providing essential access for communities, neighbours and forestry business.
Andy Leitch, Deputy Chief Executive of Confor, which represents the forestry and wood-using industry, said:
“We are aware of damage to forests across large areas of the east coast, including Aberdeenshire and The Scottish Borders. We are liaising with the public forestry bodies to assess the scale of the damage.
“The scale of the storm means it will take time to clear the damage and we would reiterate the advice from Forestry and Land Scotland to avoid forest walks, particularly because of the continuing threat from part-fallen trees.
“As always in these circumstances, the industry will pull together to ensure any areas which are regularly accessed by the public are made safe as soon as possible.”
The FLS web pages will be updated regularly to keep members of the public updated on progress.
If anyone has specific safety concerns they are asked to report it to the relevant FLS Regional team.