A lot at stake for foresters operating in National Parks

Stand of Scots Pine with regeneration emerging and holding pockets of Twinflower

Balancing commercial timber harvesting with environmental constraints can throw up unique challenges for forest managers who are operating on sites contained within national park boundaries.

Close collaboration with local and national government agencies is the key to growing and harvesting good quality timber in areas of special sensitivity says Bell Ingram Forestry Management specialist Jim Adam, who believes that working with stakeholders is “paramount” to the success of such operations.

It’s an approach that’s paid dividends for Jim and his team who have managed a commercial woodland on the Cairngorms National Park, near Grantown-on-Spey, since 2011.

During that time the operation has won a number of plaudits including a Scotland’s Finest Woods Award. The site also hosted a seminar attended by representatives from the forest industry and environmental agencies to demonstrate good harvesting practices in relation to biodiversity.

 Jim explained: “Although timber production is the main objective, all harvesting operations have to take account of the rare flora and fauna species (specifically Twin Flower and Pine Hoverfly) within the woodland, as thinning intensity and coup sizes may have a dramatic effect on their survival. Close consultation with SNH, RSPB, Plantlife Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park is paramount in co-ordinating management and harvesting techniques and timing of operations.”

Recent collaboration with the National Park Authority and the Access Officer has also enabled forestry managers to re-instate paths through the woodland after harvesting operations, and install new signage, gates and information on routes which form part of a wider path network.

Bell Ingram has also been innovative in its approach by using cattle to reduce ground vegetation and encourage natural regeneration on felled areas.

Jim concluded: “The site is an attractive woodland of Long-Established Plantation origin and its survival is essential to the local economy, landscape and its rich biodiversity where some of the country’s rare species thrive. Quality native pine timber has been harvested from the woodland for nearly 150 years, and with appropriate management this is set to continue in perpetuity. The quality of timber produced is exceptional and highly sought after by local mills.

“Management practices represent a very good example of matching appropriate species choice to the site to produce quality timber in harmony with its habitat and not to be pressurised into maximising volume by conversion to non-native alternative species. Our management principles are backed by SNH, RSPB and the National Park Authority.”

For advice on any aspect of forest management contact Jim Adam on 01224 621 300 or email jim.adam@bellingram.co.uk

Published on 15th August 2019