Scottish forests begin to reopen to the public after Storm Arwen

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is beginning to open up some of the national forests to visitors after Storm Arwen hit at the end of November.

However, it is also advising that many forests will remain closed as more high winds over the next few days increase the risk of more falling trees in vulnerable, storm battered forests.

Simon Hodgson, FLS chief executive, said:

“It is a mammoth task but we are slowly getting to grips with assessing the levels of damage and risk across all of the forests that we look after, including the 544 visitor sites and trails that we promote on our website.

We do want to open trails as soon as we can safely do so and we are beginning to open up some forests but there are still many locations where the risk to public health and safety is high.

“That risk is only going to increase over the next few days with more high winds potentially dislodging hanging trees or blowing over unstable trees.

“Add in the increasingly wet or icy conditions and you have a dangerous and potentially deadly mix, so we would ask everyone to please observe any and all restrictions in your area.”

Most forests re-opened

Most forests in the north of Scotland have been re-opened for public access as they have been left relatively unscathed by the storm.

Some forests in the west of Scotland have been re-opened to the public but there remain issues at some locations with individual trees, and some trees at recreation sites.

Members of the public are welcome to visit west Scotland forests but must observe all safety, closure and diversion signage.

Forestry and Land Scotland’s web pages will be updated on Mondays and Fridays with the latest access information.

However, forests in the Moray, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perth & Kinross, Fife, the central belt and South Scotland remain closed.

Hodgson added;

“Our teams have diverted all of their effort into working tirelessly with partner agencies across the country, in often difficult and trying conditions, prioritising tree work on locations that provide an immediate risk to people or property.

“Their next priority is providing essential access for communities, neighbours and forestry business.

Some locations are likely to remain closed for some while and will not re-open until the risk to public health and safety resulting from the storm has been dealt with.

“I would like to commend members of the public for bearing with us and thank them for their support as we help deal with the aftermath of Storm Arwen.”