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A recent survey carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland of Bluebell Woods in Johnstone has found about 120 trees to be structurally unsound from fungal infections, basal rot from vandalism and over maturity.
This number of trees represents a very small number of the many thousands of trees that make up an otherwise healthy local woodland.
As part of their responsibility to ensure public safety, the trees will be removed with work starting late in February and through March. All the trees and more will be replanted later in the year.
The removal of the trees is part of a bigger plan by the Commission, which is purchasing the woods from Renfrewshire Council, to improve the health of the woodland before starting path improvement works to make it more accessible for the local community.
Matt Buckland, beat forester from the Commission’s Scottish Lowland’s office said:
“We are in the process of purchasing the woodland from the Council and as part of the transition we carried out a tree safety survey. This has shown a number of trees to be suffering badly with weakened roots or structures. We are following up with more detailed tree assessment for other wildlife interests like bats.
“What is of particular concern is that some of the trees are within falling range of busy roads, walking paths and a children’s play area so we need to remove them quickly.
“The good news is that only a small percentage of trees in the woodland are affected and of course we will be replanting them. Our aim is to get the community directly involved and will be asking for volunteers to join us in a planting event later in the year.”
Whilst work is being carried out to remove the trees, the Commission is urging members of the public to take notice of safety signs and to keep a safe distance from the on-going woodland operations.
The Commission will be writing to all residents living in the near vicinity to inform them of the trees removal. The local school will also be given a talk by rangers to ensure children understand not to use the play area and why the work is happening.
Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Environment and Infrastructure Policy Board, said:
“Forestry Commission Scotland taking over the Bluebell Wood is good news for the community and will make the area a more attractive place for local people to spend time. However, before that they are making sure that the wood is safe by removing any trees which are unhealthy and dangerous. These trees will be replanted and overall this will add to the improvements to the area.”
The Commission is buying the woodland for the benefit of the community and has a number of plans to improve access for local people.
Mr Buckland added:
“We’ll be upgrading the path network, clearing up vegetation and generally making the woodland more inviting.
“A Commission’s ranger will also be working with people to encourage a greater use of the woodland for events, educational activities and to simply get local more involved in the wood’s future on-going management.
“Bluebell Woods also links to our new site at Windyhill where we are creating a new woodland and paths for local use. All in all there is a lot happening in the area.
“A full woodland Warden team will also maintain the woodland to a high standard and provide a welcoming and friendly presence for anyone using the woods.”
Anyone who wishes more information about the Commission’s plans can contact email@example.com or call Scottish Lowlands Forest District on 01555 660190.
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
2. Follow Forestry Commission Scotland news on Twitter www.twitter.com/fcscotlandnews
3. 2011 is the UN International Year of Forestry. For more information about how this is being celebrated in Scotland, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/IYFscotland2011 and check out our Face book page at www.facebook.com/internationalyearofforestsinscotland
4. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.