Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) civil engineering team has striven to keep harvesting work on track during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure a constant supply of timber.

Harvesting was one of the few forestry activities permitted during lockdown because the timber produced was used to make pallets (for carrying essential goods around the country), protective face masks for frontline responders, and even wood fuel pellets, which are used by many hospital and care home heating systems.

However, getting the timber out is not always straightforward.

Engineer Jeff Hancox said: “A site at Lochaline was identified for essential harvesting work but to get to it we needed to construct a new forest road – one of three needed in the area.

“However, the COVID-19 public health guidance meant that we very quickly had to develop and adopt new, safe working practices. 

“We also had to make sure that our contractors understood the new requirements and that they would be supplying PPE and welfare facilities for their staff.

“Once everything was in place we started work and, several weeks in, the first of three new roads is complete and harvesting of the essential timber planned to begin soon.”

Forestry Journal: The new forest road at Lochaline.The new forest road at Lochaline.

Getting the project started under such difficult circumstances has helped ensure that essential timber supplies will continue to support the ongoing national COVID-19 effort. It has also helped the civil engineering team develop new site management processes that will help ensure continued compliance in the future, FLS said.

Work will continue until September of this year when all three roads (a distance of around 2 km) are expected to be complete.

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