Scots Pine Regeneration Challenges on Deeside

Earlier this year we went for a walk through the Redburn woods behind Dinnet. Just at the edge of the established woodland we were surprised to see a good deal of felling of all of the young recently regenerated trees with girths from 20cm down to 15mm. We could see the regeneration was loosely scattered and it climbed up the hills in the Ballater direction. Out of interest we contacted Mr Steve Brown based in the Forestry Commission's Grampian Conservancy's Huntly offices.

Scots Pine on DeesideMr Brown, who also provides advice on the Woodlands Grant Scheme, was kind enough to forward us a Forestry Commission leaflet entitled "Tree felling - getting permission". In this it specifies that "In any calendar quarter, you may fell up to 5 cubic metres on your property without a licence as long as no more than 2 cubic metres are sold" and later on, amongst categories of felling not requiring permission were "trees which when measured at a height of 1.3 metres from the ground have a diameter 8 centimetres or less or, if thinnings, have a diameter of 10 centimetres or less". Just before going to press Mr Brown confirmed he had visited the area and to his mind, there had been no breach of the regulations. We were surprised to hear this as some of the felled young tree girths were clearly above the diameter that the regulations stated required permission. Mr Brown also confirmed that the Head Keeper had advised the estate plans to continue this felling and to carry out muirburn later in the year. With the lack of natural Scots Pine regeneration being a recognised concern in much of Deeside and beyond, and in most cases this regeneration facing unconquerable challenges from deer populations, we would have thought that stricter adherence to the regulations would have been required.

Whilst not wanting to butt unnecessarily into other people's business, attention to legislative detail can be critical (as shown elsewhere in this issue) when it comes to the protection of our mountain and wilderness areas.

Jennifer A. Cook April 2003

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