Scotland was once covered in an Atlantic temperate rainforest, although now only about 1% of this ancient forest remains.
Scotland’s rainforests are made up of oak, ash, birch, pine and hazel woodlands on the west coast of the country.
They comprise just 2% of all forest cover, but are considered internationally important for the enormous abundance and diversity of species found there, including some of the world’s rarest lichens and mosses.
The rainforests are situated over five areas near Crinan, Spean Bridge, Strathcarron, Oban and Uig.
Across the country, just 7% of native woodland is in good condition and around half of ancient woodlands have been damaged by commercial forestry or soaring numbers of rhododendrons .
 Argyll is covered by commercial forests, mostly growing non native species such as Sitka Spruce etc. This commercial activity has rendered the landscape into unnatural man made square of rectangular plantings.  Hundreds of acres of non native commercial species, closely packed  and growing slowly in regimented lines. The commercial species are planted in '30 year forests', taking approximately 30 year to grow to harvest. This dense and unnatural planting renders the forest flow virtually sterile and unable to support much in the way of wildlife.
Very often the landscape is left scarred and battered by harvesting activities, leaving vast swathes resembling a battlefield.   Some remnants of the ancient forests remain, although these are being increasingly squeezed out by commercial activities. 
In this ongoing body of work, I examine the impact of commercial forestry on the landscape.


Bags containing juvenile Sitka Spruce waiting to be planted out, Raera, Argyll
Bags containing juvenile Sitka Spruce waiting to be planted out, Raera, Argyll
Bags containing juvenile Sitka Spruce awaiting planting
Bags containing juvenile Sitka Spruce awaiting planting
Non native Sitka Spruce saplings, awaiting planting, Raera, argyll
Non native Sitka Spruce saplings, awaiting planting, Raera, argyll
Replanting of harvested hillside with non native Sitka Spruce, Kimelford, Argyll
Replanting of harvested hillside with non native Sitka Spruce, Kimelford, Argyll
Logging caravan amid the harvested landscape, Argyll
Logging caravan amid the harvested landscape, Argyll
Logging road running over harvested hillside with yes to be felled Sitka Spruce planting on the horizon
Logging road running over harvested hillside with yes to be felled Sitka Spruce planting on the horizon
Oppressive  corridor of non native Sitka Spruce forest A816, Argyll
Oppressive corridor of non native Sitka Spruce forest A816, Argyll
Native Hawthorn damaged by logging operations, still flowers in the barren landscape of recently felled forest, Raera, Argyll
Native Hawthorn damaged by logging operations, still flowers in the barren landscape of recently felled forest, Raera, Argyll
Commercial forestry operations in Scotland have had a significant impact on the environment, especially when it comes to ancient woodlands. These operations, driven by the demand for timber and other wood products, have resulted in the destruction of many ancient woodlands, leaving the landscape scarred and ugly.

Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable habitats that have been evolving for centuries, supporting a rich and diverse ecosystem of plants, animals, and fungi. These woodlands provide a unique and valuable resource for biodiversity, with many species depending on them for their survival. However, commercial forestry operations often prioritize profit over conservation, leading to the destruction of these ancient woodlands.

One of the problems with commercial forestry operations in Scotland is the use of clear-cutting techniques, where large areas of forest are completely cleared of trees. This not only destroys the habitat of many animals and plants but also disrupts the natural landscape, leaving it scarred and unattractive. The machinery used in these operations can also cause damage to the soil and waterways, further impacting the environment.

In addition to the physical damage caused by commercial forestry operations, there are also long-term consequences for the environment. Deforestation can lead to soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and changes in local climate patterns. The loss of ancient woodlands also means that important carbon sinks are being destroyed, contributing to climate change.

To address these issues, it is essential for forestry operations in Scotland to adopt more sustainable practices. This includes selective logging, where only certain trees are harvested, leaving the rest of the forest intact. It also involves implementing measures to protect biodiversity, such as creating buffer zones around sensitive habitats.

Furthermore, it is crucial for the government to enforce regulations and ensure that forestry operations are carried out in a responsible manner. This includes conducting environmental impact assessments before any work begins and monitoring the effects of operations on the landscape and wildlife. By taking these steps, we can help to mitigate the damage caused by commercial forestry operations in Scotland and preserve our ancient woodlands for future generations.

In conclusion, commercial forestry operations in Scotland have had a detrimental impact on the environment, particularly when it comes to ancient woodlands. The destruction of these valuable habitats not only harms biodiversity but also leaves the landscape scarred and unattractive. By adopting more sustainable practices and enforcing regulations, we can help to minimize the damage caused by forestry operations and protect our natural heritage.

References:
- Scottish Forestry. (2021). Environmental Impact Assessment. https://www.forestry.gov.scot/environmental-impact-assessment-scoping-opinion
- Forestry and Land Scotland. (2021). Biodiversity and Forestry. https://forestryandland.scot/what-we-do/biodiversity-and-forestry/.

Logging waste, Kilmelford, Argyll. This waste is left to rot on site, people are prevented from collecting it for firewood.

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