Large new productive woodland in the Ochils
Property type: Former farmland previously used for livestock farming and rough grazing at Knowes and Keltie, adjacent farms in the Ochils, near Dunning, Perth and Kinross.
New Woodland Creation Scheme Objectives: Scottish Woodlands Ltd has worked with an investor to create a top-class commercial conifer woodland of 450 hectares to deliver a high-quality timber crop on a site easily accessible for harvesting. Based around a core of Sitka Spruce, the site also includes a mosaic of diverse conifer areas, native broadleaves and open ground. New habitat has been created for a range of species. Since spring 2019, more than 900,000 trees have been planted - despite issues caused by Covid-19, then heavy snow in early 2021.
In terms of climate change mitigation, Knowes & Keltie is expected to provide a 3,150-tonne annual benefit in terms of carbon dioxide capture and storage.
The project: During planning and preparation, several surveys were undertaken by specialist contractors – including bird, botanical and groundwater ecosystem surveys - as well as a landscape appraisal. Archaeology and deep peat were also assessed, with additional consultation with SEPA, NatureScot, RSPB, Historic Environment Scotland Perth and Kinross Council and the local community.
Changes to the application process under the Mackinnon Review, and good input and support from Scottish Forestry staff, meant the scheme went through the approval system in 12 months - quicker than other similar recent schemes. This was helped by time-specific surveys, e.g. breeding birds, being carried out at an early stage. The final planting design is sympathetic to the landscape, biodiversity and archaeology of the site.
What next? In 2019, the owners acquired an adjacent farm, Kippen, to plant another 85 hectares in 2021/22. This will create a diverse conifer and broadleaved woodland based around Douglas fir and oak. The scheme promotes public access and enjoyment through formalising the use of forestry roads and tracks and linking these to an existing network of core paths - particularly suitable for mountain bikers and walkers.