In a unique union of tradition and innovation, a logging horse named Tarzan is embarking on a novel commute to restore a stunning fragment of Caledonian pinewood and Scotland's rainforest.
Nestled on the shores of Loch Arkaig, this forest site has remained virtually inaccessible by road. However, with Tarzan's help, timber can now be transported from this remote region, aiding in the restoration of the Pine Forest, which harbors rare remnants of ancient Caledonian pinewood and Scotland's unique rainforest ecosystem.
Decades ago, during the 1960s, this area was heavily planted with non-native conifers due to soaring timber demand. Now, these mature conifers are outcompeting native pines and other indigenous tree species.
Simon Dakin, a tree feller who has partnered with Tarzan for eight years, explained the horse logging process. While it is more time-consuming compared to modern machinery, it leaves less ecological damage, preserving the forest's delicate balance.
Felling is strategically scheduled for the winter months to avoid disturbing nesting birds and other wildlife during their breeding season. The forest boasts a diverse range of native species, including red deer, ospreys, sea eagles, pine martens, and red squirrels. However, the project's primary goal is to rejuvenate Scotland's natural rainforest.
Henry Dobson, Estate Manager at Woodland Trust Scotland, noted that removing approximately 70,000 tonnes of mainly Sitka spruce and lodgepole pine over five years will allow native trees to reclaim the site with their offspring. This endeavor is a collaboration between Arkaig Community Forest and the Woodland Trust, driven by a shared passion for environmental conservation and the desire to combat climate change by fostering biodiversity.
The transportation of timber via a barge across freshwater is believed to be a first in the UK, and the Woodland Trust aims to pioneer the world's first electrically charged timber transport vessel.
This pioneering conservation project is closely monitored by the forestry sector, offering valuable insights into sustainable and environmentally friendly timber harvesting methods.
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