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Woodland owners, managers and the wider public have a great opportunity to see working horses in action as part of a timber harvesting demonstration at the award winning Borders Festival of the Horse this May. (Wednesday 25th)
The event will showcase how horses continue to play an important role in sustainable forest management, especially on environmentally sensitive woodland sites.
See heavy horses in action pulling timber and meet North Northumberland based expert Danny MacNeil and new Borders horse logger Rab Erskine with their commercial horse logging team.
For several years now, Forestry Commission Scotland has been working with the festival's organisers, the British Horse Society Scotland (BHS), to help celebrate everything that makes Scottish Borders "Scotland's Horse Country".
Iain Laidlaw of Forestry Commission Scotland said:
"We are delighted to be working with the horse loggers, BHS and the Roxburghe Estate to lay on demonstrations that will be of interest to many people.
“The demos are open to all and I would particularly encourage foresters and woodland owners to come along and see why modern horse logging is often a viable option for timber harvesting, particularly on sensitive sites. Rising fuel costs for mechanised harvesting are helping to make bio-fuelled horses even more competitive."
“Speaking as someone with a horse riding daughter, it’s great to see horses really earning their keep! It’s also great to see Rab, having been inspired to take up horse logging by one of Danny’s previous demonstrations, now taking an active part.”
Peter Darling, Head Forester for Roxburghe Estate said:
“We are keen to try horses rather than machines for timber harvesting on what is a fairly sensitive site. Whilst it may be slightly more expensive than the most efficient modern machines, we think it would be worth paying a premium to minimise disturbance, for example around streams, footpaths and roadside verges.”
Ann Fraser of BHS is delighted that horse logging is going to be part of the 2011 Festival of the Horse:
"Few people have seen horse logging in action and it will give them a great chance to see an example of the skill of horses in a real work situation rather than in recreation or sport."
The demo takes place at Bowmont Forest on Wednesday 25th May from 3pm to 6pm. The demo site is accessed via the main forest car park and picnic site (NT733285), follow signs from Bowmont Sawmill between A698 & B6436 about 3 miles south of Kelso.
The Roxburghe Estate site at Bowmont Forest is excellent in terms of visitor parking and proximity to an accessible logging site where Danny and Rab will be working a small felling and extraction contract for a few days leading up to the demo on 25th. There are picnic tables so, weather permitting, a BBQ and other refreshments are planned.
Booking is preferred (but not essential) and anyone requiring further information should contact Iain Laidlaw on 07831 327319. Admission is free but donations to the British Horse Loggers Charitable Trust are welcome (www.britishhorseloggerscharitabletrust.org) .
The rest of the Festival runs from 18th to 30th May and offers 13 days packed with activities and events for both riders and non-riders.
For full details of the rest of the Festival from guided rides to International Horse Trials, Kelso Races to horse friendly accommodation check out www.bordersfestivalhorse.org .The comprehensive Festival brochure (on the website) includes a section on the Trees, Woods and Forests of the Scottish Borders and Horse Logging.
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate www.forestry.gsi.gov.uk
2. Horse logging in south Scotland: Whilst there are several active professional horse logging teams in North England (including Danny MacNeil) who often work in Scottish Borders, Rab Erskine is the only known commercial logger based in the South/Central area of Scotland. Rab is based at the Glen Estate near Innerleithen in the Scottish Borders.
Horses appear particularly well suited to the increasing number of community / urban fringe woodland sites where they cause minimal damage to footpaths etc and are generally much better suited than conventional machines when it comes to interaction with (and interest from) the public. There appears to be no shortage of work for existing horses and so there would appear to be opportunities for new horse loggers based in South/Central Scotland. The organisation, British Horse Loggers www.britishhorseloggers.org, is keen to encourage new horse loggers in Scotland and this is one of the aims of a series of horse logging demonstrations that FCS and partners have been helping with.
Media enquiries to :
Iain Laidlaw, Forestry Commission Scotland mobile 07831 327319 or Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.
Local Horse Logging Contacts:
Danny MacNeil, 01830 520457 & 07774 616567.
Rab Erskine, 07767 480132 & firstname.lastname@example.org.