Glen Righ landslips not result of forestry felling

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Following the success of a massive operation to clear landslip debris from the A82 at Glen Righ, Forestry Commission Scotland’s Civil Engineers have identified the cause of the problem - a series of landslips on the open hill above the forest.

The landslips occurred on open hill ground above Glen Righ and above the tree line.  The forested areas and tree stumps left after felling stopped much of the debris from cascading further down the hill, preventing what could have been a far worse situation.  

The Forestry Commission Scotland, Forest District Manager for Lochaber, Michael Hymers said;

“The quantity and intensity of recent rainfall experienced in days caused a series of landslips, which in turn lead to an unprecedented amount of mud and debris being cascaded down the hill side, sweeping through the local catchment area.

 “The force of the water and debris was so great that a number of felled trees awaiting extraction were swept onto the A82 and the debris flow has completely washed away a number of concrete road bridges and culverts within the forest. It carried so much energy downhill that in some instances it has scoured totally new routes out of the hill side.

“At lower levels on the hill, the presence of tree stumps, root systems binding the soils and standing trees have acted as a buffer, intercepting the debris flow and reducing its impact. This has ensured that this unforeseeable event did not end up being much worse.”

The very high level of rainfall created an extraordinary situation that the Commission’s local team had never encountered before. Immediate responses at the time of the incident focussed on declaring the site safe for clean-up operations to begin as soon as possible. Teams from Forestry Commission Scotland and Bear Scotland dealt with the landslip quickly, clearing debris from the road and managing water flows.

Environment & Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said;

“The work that Forestry Commission Scotland is engaged in along the A82 is about removing mature trees and substantially reducing the level of potential risk to the A82.

“Stabilising the hillside within their Glen Righ operations area is a substantial part of the programme and the geo-technical work carried out so far has done its job, ensuring both that these areas have not been affected by adverse weather conditions and that they have helped mitigate the impact of the landslip on the road below.

“I would commend everyone involved in the clean-up operation on site, whose efforts in the face of horrendous conditions and circumstances helped re-open the road.”

The Commission’s steep ground felling programme at Glen Righ has been in operation for three years without incident.  The last debris flow resulting in a closure of the A82 at Glen Righ happened in April 2011, prior to the programme starting.

Notes to Editors

1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate

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3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.

4. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Media Officer, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590