With forests in the North-east battered by several storms since the end of last year, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has been working as quickly as is safely possible to clear fallen trees from roads and its huge network of paths and cycle trails.
As far as possible, FLS is carrying on with its programme of work to manage and establish new forests and promote biodiversity, but large amounts of timber also need to be harvested when it is still in good enough condition to be of value to the wood processing sector.
The work will take many months to complete and is being hampered by members of the public who disregard safety advice.
David Leven, FLS regional manager, said; “The number of storms we have had to deal with is highly unusual and the damage they have caused is extensive. We will be working on the clear-up for months to come.
“People should avoid sites that are closed and any areas of the forests where storm damage is present and hasn’t been made safe.
“There is a lot of debris which is heavy and sharp and which can present a trip hazard, especially in windy weather, and many trails and paths are blocked by fallen trees that might look stable but that can move, roll, pivot or fall easily if disturbed.
"Any of these hazards could result in serious injury and emergency service access might not be possible.
“People should also avoid sites where we are working. Health and safety requirements mean that we have to stop working, explain the dangers to people and ask them to leave.
“More and more sites are re-opening but progress is not being helped by members of the public disregarding this guidance. The small delays add up and only mean that it will take longer for us to fully reopen our forests.”
FLS is asking all visitors to obey signage, stay well away from work areas, turn back if paths or trails are blocked and not to walk around, climb over or duck under felled trees.
People should also avoid going to forests when weather conditions are poor, as trees or debris which is unstable may be blown down without warning.
Mr Leven added: “We really want to welcome people back to all of our forests as soon as possible and we know that it is frustrating to not be able to visit some places but things will be disrupted for some time to come.
“Most people are exercising common sense and continuing to enjoy the forests in a safe way.
“We’ll keep working as hard as we can to get things back to normal as soon as we can and we appreciate the patience and understanding being shown.”
Up to date information is available at the FLS website.