Euroforest building the road to success

Area Manager, Cameron Gillies Reflects on Windblow Clearance in Northeast Scotland Three Months on from Storm Arwen

Three months have passed since Storm Arwen caused devastation to many forests in Scotland & Northern England.  Since Arwen there have been six further named storms that have caused considerable damage across nearly every part of the country, leaving a monumental clear up for land and forest owners.  Cameron Gillies, Euroforest’s Area Manager for Northeast Scotland reflects on the damage caused in his area predominantly by Storm Arwen, Malik and Corrie which is estimated at over one million tonnes, and the strong support he is providing forest owners who have been impacted.

How have the areas you manage been affected by the extreme weather?

“I have worked in the same woods for over a decade and during this time built up long-term relationships with landowners and agents.  Although I do not own any woodlands myself, I have taken a sense of ownership for the works I have undertaken, and it is gutting to see the effects the storms have had on these.  Over the last three months I have seen first-hand the power of mother nature and the resulting destruction of entire woodlands.  The range of damage is incredible; in some of the woodlands I have worked in there have been a couple of hundred tonnes of windblow, whereas in others over 30,000 tonnes of timber has been affected by both windblow and wind snap.  Having witnessed trees that have shattered due to the force of the wind is humbling, and I have found it difficult to see the woodlands that people have invested their livelihoods into being decimated.”

What have you been doing to clear up the damage left by the storm?

“After the initial shock it became clear that the damage caused was going to be a significant problem. I was the first to visit many of the woodlands in my area to assess the damage and I spent considerable time contacting the forest owners affected.  As well as working with existing clients, I have been approached by numerous landowners I haven’t worked with before.   I pride myself in taking a proactive approach to this momentous clear up and within three weeks of storm Arwen I had harvesters on site and starting to clear the windblow. Three months on we have several harvesters working full time dedicated to clearing windblow.  At present, I am prioritising Scots pine whenever possible, but also starting to clear some spruce woods which I believe will take over a year to tidy up."
"I have built strong working relationships with forest owners during my time at Euroforest and have done this through providing a high level of service and ensuring the highest financial return is generated from the sale of the timber.  It is expected that it will take a year and a half to clear the damage caused by this winter’s storms and I will continue to provide support and advise to landowners with storm damage or who wish to discuss any forestry operation whenever required.”

What can forest owners expect when they get in touch with you regarding windblow clearance?

Euroforest can manage the timber harvesting operation from start to finish.  I will initially arrange a site visit where I will assess the full extent of the windblow and prioritise species to be harvested based on those that will decrease in value more rapidly due to decay or discolouration.  Once I have determined the size, quality, and volume of the timber I will generate a full harvesting proposal and costing which shows how I intend to maximise the landowners return by cutting a range of products to utilise the whole tree.   I will always consider local markets initially and but will also consider customers out with my locality to ensure best price and quick timber uplift."

Once We Start

"Once the landowner has accepted the harvesting proposal, a planning phase begins where I work alongside Euroforest’s compliance team to look at health and safety risks, environmental, and wildlife constraints. Site access is also considered; many small forests may need access improvements, and where necessary Euroforest can build new roads and harvesting infrastructure to facilitate windblow clearance.  A felling licence will be applied for if applicable and once granted harvesting operations can begin."