Field Notes: Felling at Glenlude

Glenlude manager Karen Purvis reports on the wet and muddy progress of our new three-year plan for the conifer plantation

Extracting timber from hill to collection site detail

We started a new phase of work at Glenlude this September. Up until then we had been hand-felling and using horses and small vehicles to extract timber from our property in the Scottish Borders in an effort to maintain canopy cover, protect soils and maximise ecological, economic and social activity. This timber was then processed into firewood by our regular volunteers, which we sell on site.

Realising that the trees were rapidly outgrowing our ability to fell by hand - and kindly supported by Andy Howard from Pennine Forestry - we have updated our three year plan for the plantation. Now, as well as thinning the spruce, we are pre-emptively felling our larch due to the risk of Phytophthora ramorum – an algae-like organism that has caused a great deal of damage already in Southern Scotland.

Our new plan still respects our ethos, the work done so far by volunteers, plus the ongoing need for volunteer and other group activities. Using the smallest possible machinery, we are removing every sixth row of spruce – this maintains canopy cover and allows the remaining trees to grow on - and felling 90 per cent of the larch.

This autumn's excessively wet weather has caused delays, but by working closely with our chosen contractors, supported by Andy, we are moving forward.

Thursday work parties have carried on throughout the forest operations and our regular volunteers have been able to see the progress first hand and gain an insight and understanding of the operations. The extracted timber is being sold commercially with the proceeds going towards keeping Glenlude self-sustaining.

Extracted timber at Glenlude 2019

Photos by Karen Purvis