(UPM Tilhill, Glen Orchy, Scotland, March 2013) – An experimental project that will help restore 114 hectares of rough grazing and hill ground to native forest saw more than 350,000 trees planted last year with the remaining 60,000 planned for planting in 2013.
The Glen Orchy woodland creation project, part of which was a Diamond Jubilee Woodland Scheme, is being carried out on behalf of Forestry Commission Scotland by UPM Tilhill. The native broadleaf trees are being planted up to an unusually high altitude on areas of land ranging from 110 metres above sea level to over 550 metres. The trees have also been planted more closely together than usual, aiming for a minimum of 3,500 trees per hectare.
Local primary school pupils from Crianlarich, Dalmally, Inverary and Taynuilt planted some trees at the Diamond Wood site over a week long period. Forestry Commission Scotland and Woodland Trust staff also provided on site educational activities to all the pupils on this exciting project.
Currently there are few broadleaf trees being grown for timber in Scotland and, eventually, Glen Orchy may develop into a resource for the local area. The mix of trees includes pedunculate and sessile oak, silver and downy birch, common alder, Scots pine, wild cherry, holly, hazel, juniper, aspen, hawthorn, ash and rowan. Measures have also been put in place to enhance the habitat for black grouse.
Inaccessible and steep terrain has made the project particularly challenging - one of the three areas is 3kms from the nearest road. Access issues also meant that the materials for the 11.5kms of fencing, needed to protect the trees from deer and sheep, had to be flown in by helicopter. Because the land was too steep for a traditional tracked excavator, it had to be cultivated using a walking excavator and, in some areas, staff had to literally work on their hands and knees.
UPM Tilhill Forest Manager Ross Buchanan said: “This is a challenging but very exciting project to deliver. We’re changing rough grazing land back to being productive and restoring it to how it would have looked prior to man’s influence when it was wildwood. There are no certainties regarding how the timber resource will develop, but Forestry Commission Scotland , have taken a brave and exciting step in facilitating potential development of a native timber resource. We’re also very pleased that the fenced area will be helping wildlife such as black grouse which have suffered serious habitat loss, because of deer and sheep preventing any natural regeneration and development of a mid-canopy shrub layer. The fencing has been specially marked to make them visible to the grouse.”
Glen Orchy is popular with walkers and campers who will benefit from the added character that the native woodland will bring to the area. Perfect growing conditions last summer has resulted in unprecedented growth with some birch trees growing well over a metre in the first year. Good ground preparation by the UPM Tilhill team and a new type of fertilizer has also helped give the young trees the best possible start.
The foresters who carried out the work on behalf of UPM Tilhill West Highland District were Ross Buchanan, Iain Pettifor and Steven Miller with input from District Manager John Little. UPM Tilhill will manage the site, alongside Forestry Commission Scotland, for the next three years.
UPM Tilhill, established more than 60 years ago, is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK.UPM Tilhill is the UK’s largest timber harvesting and forest management company. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor. Further information is available at www.upm-tilhill.com
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