Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has said it will be embarking on a “sustained period” of felling work in its productive forests across the Tweed Valley.

FLS has warned that there will be some heavy-duty machinery on site and machine operators may not be able to see or hear people, and so it is “imperative” that visitors respect the exclusion zone.

It is anticipated that operations will be ongoing throughout 2024 and into the early part of 2025 and will impact access to sites including Glentress, Traquair, Caberston and Thornielee.

Forest users are advised to always observe safety signage and diversion signage and listen to FLS staff.

The work, which will affect an extensive area across the region, is part of FLS’ planned sustainable forest management programme.

FLS said local teams have made every effort to ensure the large-scale operations will have minimal impact on recreational facilities, while putting public safety first.

This will mean restrictions to access for some mountain bike trails, as well as other diversions.

Productive forestry

FLS south region deputy regional manager, Colin Binnie, said: “The forests in this region support a wide range of recreational activities offering health and wellbeing benefits for the public.

“However, productive forestry is a core priority for us, essentially because the income generated from timber sales funds the majority of FLS’ work.

“These trees have reached commercial maturity and need to be harvested as part of managing healthy and resilient forests.”

Binnie said this is especially important to reduce the likelihood of significant disruption from storm damage.

“In the planning and operational phases all efforts have been made to allow people to keep using most of the trails in the area while prioritising the health and safety of our staff, our contractors and all members of the public. 

“We appreciate that the Tweed Valley is home to really popular mountain biking, walking and horse-riding trails and this work will cause some inconvenience, but it’s vital that we get this felling done.”

Although heavy machinery might seem to be far off, the safety cordon around worksites is large because of the risk of ‘chainshot’.

This occurs when the high-speed chains that drive the harvester heads break and chain links fly off – in any direction – with the force and equivalent impact of a bullet, FLS warned.

Binnie said the large-scale nature of FLS’ work means harvesting operations will be visible and where work does impact on public access, it is encouraging visitors to consider one of the many other sites still open in the Tweed Valley.

“With the busier summer period approaching, we want people to be aware of the essential forestry work we are doing, adhere to the safety messaging and continue to enjoy the vast majority of managed and promoted trails that remain open.”