Forestry is no threat to wildlife on Mull

The Oban Times - - LETTERS -

Sir, I am writ­ing to re­as­sure res­i­dents and any­one con­nected with Mull that there is no threat to wildlife in the area as a re­sult of the trees that are be­ing planted. In fact, work­ing with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and land own­ers to pro­tect the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment is cen­tral to our op­er­a­tions.

Our work on Mull has been ex­ten­sive and pos­i­tive. It has in­cluded: help­ing to pro­vide so­lu­tions to ex­port­ing tim­ber from Mull to the main­land and Ire­land; help­ing to min­imise im­pacts on frag­ile roads by de­sign­ing low-im­pact tim­ber trucks, and cre­at­ing forest de­sign plans that help both com­mu­nity and pri­vate clients achieve their ob­jec­tives for their forests.

Our ecol­o­gists have guided the work to en­sure min­i­mal im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment – in­clud­ing en­sur­ing the float­ing pier does not in­ter­fere with ot­ters. Our felling plans en­sure white-tailed ea­gles flour­ish in the forests where they nest. To name just two ex­am­ples.

Your ar­ti­cle ‘ Chem­i­cal threat to Mull wildlife’ in last week’s pa­per men­tions the use of a sys­temic pes­ti­cide called Gazelle.

Like many other crops, trees can suf­fer from dam­age by in­sects such as wee­vils. To help them to thrive, the young trees are treated in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment in the nurs­ery where they are grown be­fore be­ing trans­ported to site for plant­ing. The use of Gazelle is only pos­si­ble be­cause of ex­ten­sive tests and stud­ies. It has been ap­proved by the EU and the UK CRD (Chem­i­cal Reg­u­la­tion Depart­ment) and is ap­proved by our dual Forest Sus­tain­able Man­age­ment Bod­ies PEFC and FSC as well as by the Forestry Com­mis­sion and UK WAS (UK Wood­land As­sur­ance Scheme).

We only use pes­ti­cides when it is ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary and are striv­ing to re­duce our us­age. That is why we are ma­jor play­ers in the Hy­lo­bius (wee­vil) Plant Pro­tec­tion Group – a cross-in­dus­try group that is look­ing for the elu­sive goal of non-pes­ti­ci­dal Hy­lo­bius man­age­ment. We have been car­ry­ing out tri­als since early 2000s – firstly search­ing for lighter foot­print pes­ti­cides and se­condly for non-pes­ti­cide so­lu­tions.

It is true to say that global de­mand for tim­ber is in­creas­ing and, yes, China is hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on this. ‘Scot­land plc’ is well placed to be a ma­jor player in forestry which is why the Scot­tish Govern­ment is so sup­port­ive of the in­dus­try.

Forestry pro­duces sus­tain­able, low- car­bon ma­te­rial for con­struc­tion as well as re­new­able fuel. This helps re­duce the use of fos­sil-hun­gry ma­te­ri­als such as steel, con­crete and coal. The forests se­quester car­bon help­ing with our cli­mate change tar­gets in a sus­tain­able way while pro­vid­ing jobs and pro­tect­ing wildlife.

Re­stock­ing the forests al­lows the 1970s plan­ta­tions to be im­proved and the plant­ing of trees with bet­ter ge­net­ics to make the tim­ber far more re­silient and use­ful while cre­at­ing forests for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to en­joy.

Tim Lid­don, Forestry Di­rec­tor, Til­hill Forestry.

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