Local views sought for redevelopment plan for Merkland forest

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Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) is inviting Arran residents to have a say on the redevelopment and management plans for Merkland forest.

Falling under the proposed Merkland Land Management Plan, Merkland forest covers an area of 681ha and lies just to the north of Brodick.

It features prominently in the iconic view of Goatfell as well as from the Brodick seafront.

The Merkland Land Management Plan sets out a 10-year plan for the site which mostly involves the removal of larch trees affected by or at risk from tree disease Phytophtora ramorum.

Andy Walker, FLS forester on Arran, said: ‘Merkland is a mixed conifer plantation that is associated with the designed landscape of Brodick Castle and is important for biodiversity and for recreation. It’s also important for timber production.

‘Unfortunately, Phytophthora ramorum is now widespread and we will need to carry out major felling of larch over the next five years. It will have a huge impact on the forest but will ultimately improve the health of the trees and the woodland overall.

‘However, the substantial work that we have to do also gives us an opportunity to redesign the forest to make it more resilient in years to come, but also to enhance its visual amenity in the landscape and for local people and visitors, and also allows us to continue with sustainable timber production.

‘We would like to hear the view of residents, so, would invite anyone interested to look over the plans that are online and give us feedback on them at their leisure.’

Anyone who is unable to take part in the online consultation can request printed copies of the plan summary from Andy.Walker@forestryandland.gov.scot

The online consultation will remain open until Sunday December 5, 2021.

A further consultation will then take place next year once initial feedback is assessed and firm proposals for the site will be drawn up.

Map showing the Merkland area in the consultation outlined in red.