Scottish woodlands 'could take a generation' to be restored after Storm Arwen

Arwen Ae Valley (Dumfries) Credit: Forestry Scotland

Scottish forestry bosses say it "could take a generation" for woodlands to be restored following Storm Arwen.

Almost 3,000 hectares of forests in the south of Scotland and north of England were badly damaged when strong winds hit in November 2021.

Storm winds brought down vast swathes in trees across the Scottish Borders, Galloway and into northern England. Work is currently being undertaken to get an accurate picture of the volume of timber that might have been blown down.

Scottish Forestry, the Forestry Commission and Confor have brought together representatives from the private forestry sector and local councils so that the industry can work on a strategic approach to manage the fallen trees and  minimise the loss of timber.

Aerial images show the aftermath of the storm in Glentress Credit: Forestry Scotland

Doug Howieson, Scottish Forestry’s Head of Operational Delivery said:

“Storm Arwen was a reminder of just how ferocious Mother Nature can be. Many forests and woodlands in the south of Scotland suffered significant windblow.

“There is a major challenge now to co-ordinate the recovery of this huge amount of fallen wood so that it can get to market. It may take over a year to manage the current quantities of timber that is currently lying on the forest floor.

“Our role is to get the forestry owners together so that they can take a strategic and collective view and co-ordinate activity  to manage the aftermath of Storm Arwen in a safe and timely manner.”

Work is ongoing to determine how much damage was caused during the storm Credit: Forestry Scotland

It may take a generation for the forests and woodlands to be restored as before. Foresters say they are keen to turn this "into a positive opportunity to plant new species, making these forests more resilient for the future".

The forest industries are using a new Storm Arwen Mapping tool, developed by Forest Research and Scottish Forestry, to help them locate and plan how to remove the windblow.

The group agreed that in order to co-ordinate the clear-up, more information on the tree species, size and location, as well as the condition of the fallen trees, is needed from the Forest Research agency.