Harvesting detours on West Highland Way

ByForest Machine Magazine

22nd February 2024
Harvesting detours on West Highland Way until end of March

Harvesting detours on West Highland Way until end of March

Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is urging walkers on the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way to observe all safety signage and follow on-site instruction as harvesting work begins at key locations in Garadhban Forest (north of Drymen).

Road users and cyclists using National Cycle Route 7 are also being advised that traffic management is in place that might result in short but unavoidable delays.

FLS is also emphasising that the safety buffer zones around work sites might appear excessive to bystanders but are necessarily large to protect members of the public.

Ignoring signage and trespassing into work zones could result in life-changing injuries, or worse.

James Kyle, FLS Harvesting Forester, said; “It’s imperative that visitors don’t risk their personal safety by taking chances. Many of the big risks on any harvesting site are pretty clear – such as a large, noisy harvester that can fell and de-limb a 30 metre tree in less than a minute.

“However, some risks are less obvious. A tree being grappled by a machine can knock over adjacent, unstable trees and with all the other noise going on, you might not hear a tree falling nearer you. Anyone within two tree lengths of active operations could potentially be involved in a serious accident.

“We have taken steps to minimise the disruption for visitors and all signage in pace is there for their own safety. Please follow the diversions and obey instructions, even if it appears that there is no work taking place when you are there.”

“Visitors can check our website destination pages before they leave home to get the latest updates on works affecting our forests.”

A further danger includes the risk of chain shot, where links from snapped harvesters or chainsaws can fly off in random directions as far as 200 metres with the force – and equivalent impact – of a bullet.

The traffic management has been in place from 19 February but trail diversions and trail diversions since Tuesday 13 February. Harvesting is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024.


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The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 means visitors have a right of responsible access but also requires that land managers provide the least restrictive access.

Working in tandem these requirements help to set the conditions for safe access. However, If visitors ignore safety signage they are being irresponsible for their own safety and of people who work in the forest.

Every year, FLS aims to deliver around 3 million cubic metres of timber to market so that processors and manufacturers can transform this locally grown material into a range of products for domestic and industrial use.  

Harvesting is the final stage in a 40-year forestry cycle and FLS’ harvesting teams work 2% of the land it manages every year.

Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.

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