Meall Mor

The Oban Times - - Districts -

FORESTRY Com­mis­sion Scot­land is to step up the fight against tree pests and dis­eases by quan­ti­fy­ing drift pat­terns by spray­ing a com­mon food colour­ing from a heli­copter.

Com­mis­sion staff will un­der­take an ae­rial spray­ing trial, with no pes­ti­cides, to im­prove their un­der­stand­ing should this tech­nique ever need to be used.

The trial will take place near Meall Mor ap­prox­i­mately 10km south of In­ver­ness and, sub­ject to weather con­di­tions, is sched­uled within a ten day win­dow from Au­gust 1 to 10.

Re­garded as a last re­sort in com­bat­ing vir­u­lent, fast spread­ing tree pests and dis­eases, this trial fol­lows two oth­ers on the na­tional for­est es­tate in re­cent years.

The trial will be man­aged by For­est Re­search and will fo­cus on the more tech­ni­cal as­pects of drift man­age­ment in Scot­tish con­di­tions. This will en­able the com­mis­sion to ver­ify drift mod­els and con­tinue to help build the nec­es­sary com­pe­tence and ca­pac­ity to safely de­ploy ae­rial spray­ing if needed. The spray mix - wa­ter, a food dye and an agent to pre­vent evap­o­ra­tion - poses no risk to the en­vi­ron­ment or to hu­man and an­i­mal health, but a small area of the for­est will be closed to en­sure the heli­copter can work safely. It is an­tic­i­pated that dur­ing the 10- day win­dow the site will only be closed for a few hours on each of two or three days. Signs will fore­warn for­est users about the tem­po­rary clo­sures and the site will re- open once fly­ing is com­pleted.

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