Our forest plan includes commitments to restock felled woodland and also to expand native woodland cover where appropriate.
At the present time we are in the middle of extensive felling operations, because all our commercial forests were planted over a period of about a decade and have reached maturity in a similar timescale. Surprisingly some of the first growth sitka spruce on really very poor soils has grown extremely well, despite limited management input over the rotation.
Crosscut Forestry have provided very sound professional advice and guidance since 2011. A partnership with James Jones has been instrumental in enabling felling operations and given us access to excellent prices in the market despite our obvious disadvantage of remoteness.
Use of the Strath Of Kildonan timber haulage route is limited to an agreed number of lorries per day and over the last few years the local timber transport group has been highly effective at voluntarily and democratically allocating access to the road network in what is probably the first arrangement of its type. All lorries using the road have tyre pressure adjustment technology to reduce impacts on the road network. One of the early pioneers of this technology was Gordon Mackenzie of Kinbrace Garage, situated on Achentoul Estate.
We make our own fuel for our biomass boiler which serves the central heating and hot water at Achentoul Lodge. Timber is stacked after felling and left for 12 to 24 months (depending on weather) to air dry before being chipped into bulk storage on the estate. Our wood chips are usually around 20% moisture content which is ideal for clean efficient burning. We also supply other local biomass boilers with chips and much of our poorer grade timber from felling operations is sold locally for firewood and biomass.
Native woodland cover on the Estate is very limited but we have identified some areas where native woodland establishment and expansion would be appropriate. Much of the Estate is peatland and potential for expansion of woodland and forestry is limited,