'Formation of a forest track'

Sounds innocuous enough, doesn't it? Could it be a delicately planned and thoughtfully placed trail for the benefit of forest users and wildlife watchers?

Unfortunately, no.

Variously called 'ATV tracks' or 'Forestry roads', these little miracles of planning expertise are slipping into existence all the time and the reason for their construction is variously cited as 'restocking operations' or more often just 'forestry operations'. Vagueness is an important factor in these planning applications; inscrutability as to the real reason for digging a 3 metre wide trench through our forests seems to be a vital ingredient in Forestry and Land Scotland's (FALS) failed attempts to manage the landscape we have entrusted them.

I have no objection to a carefully designed timber management policy, even though the rate of mature tree removal is hideously disproportionate to the rate of their replacement (saplings will not count for at least 30 years) and I really wish that FALS was able to prove a wise and appropriately environmentally aware agency. But they are not.

The most recent planning list (just for 1 week) indicates 3 kilometres of forest track to be constructed by FALS (Planning list) pages 10 and 11. The tracks will be at least 3 metres wide, wider in some sections for allowing large vehicles to turn. That is in the order of 9,000 square metres, itself a meaningless figure until you can visualise several football fields of forest removed just to make a road to remove more forest.

This is a forest track, carefully designed by FALS. It features the twisted remains of countless trees that I presume would have otherwise been useful. It also is a handy collector of pollutants, judging by the oily, greeny-black liquid left in copious quantities along its whole distance. Liquids which will slowly make their way into the local watercourses, which includes loch Barnluasgan and loch Coille-Bharr.

Lovely, aren't they?

Although I have previously posted these images, I felt in necessary to have a reminder of FALS management techniques, especially as they are gearing up to remove SSSI forest in Knapdale, part of their 'Land Management Plan' (LMP). The real question is this:

how can we allow an agency which blatantly damages the landscape access to our most sensitive environments?

I leave you with one last image of the first bit of tarmac road the timber lorries hit when they finally leave the ravaged forest track.