One of the UK’s largest woodland creation schemes in recent years will see 1.3 million trees being planted on a site above Menstrie, within the Ochil Hills on the border of Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Perthshire.
The main objective of the design is for quality timber production which has an added advantage of mitigating against climate change through carbon sequestration.
Because of the number of issues to be addressed it took UPM Tilhill, acting on behalf of FIM and the landowner, around two years to secure permission for the proposed planting which included 19 different planting design iterations to try and accommodate the range of site sensitivities. The scheme was made possible through a Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) grant from Forestry Commission Scotland
UPM Tilhill’s District Manager Andrew Vaughan explains: “The site and the proposed work were subject to intense scrutiny by a range of consultees who will retain an active interest in the establishment of the woodland. Full consideration has been given and accommodated where possible, in the woodland design, to the interests of both users of the site and the community downstream, while maintaining the owner’s objectives to create a productive woodland.”
The scheme includes building a new bridge and forest road and extending the existing tracks to create a network of 11km of forest tracks which will link Menstrie with Dunblane. The design scheme retains important public access routes for walkers and fell runners, as well as flight paths for the local paraglider club. Panoramic viewpoints of the Forth valley have been maintained as well as internal views of the historic farmsteads within the site and elsewhere in Menstrie Glen.
The plateau area and design of the upper edges of the new woodland is aimed at improving the habitat and prospects for Black Grouse, which have been in serious decline within the Ochils. Around 180 hectares will be left unplanted and managed with controlled seasonal grazing to allow vegetation recovery from long-term grazing impacts.