Tree planting project takes root at Rest and Be Thankful

Two planters on the slope, right, above the A83 lifeline road. 
Two planters on the slope, right, above the A83 lifeline road. 

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Forestry and Land Scotland has begun a tree planting project on the hillside above the Rest and Be Thankful to help efforts to improve the resilience of the route.

The ambitious Rest and Be Thankful Woodland Creation Project, located on the steep and notoriously unstable south western flanks of Ben Luibhean, Glen Croe, has been designed to provide long-term protection to the A83 by helping to prevent landslips.

The initial stages of planting are taking place on land managed by Transport Scotland, which is also funding the work.

Forestry and Land Scotland has begun a tree planting project on the hillside above the Rest and Be Thankful.
Forestry and Land Scotland has begun a tree planting project on the hillside above the Rest and Be Thankful.

Welcoming the start of the project, Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said: ‘With the climate emergency likely to increasingly impact on Scotland’s landscape in the years ahead, protecting our infrastructure is a top priority.

‘Using nature-based solutions like woodland creation is a win-win solution. It will help protect this important trunk road that is a vital lifeline for many people, will help capture more carbon and help increase the habitat in which wildlife can flourish.’

Forestry and Land Scotland has been working in partnership with Transport Scotland for several years to develop the plan, which will complement a range of hard engineering works that have already been put in place in response to previous incidents.

Teams are planting a mix of native woodland species at the western end of the hillside and will, over the course of the next two years, work their way steadily eastwards.

The species being planted – locally sourced to be already adapted to the environment – include downy birch, aspen, oak, blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, juniper and Scot pine. These species are also most likely to be resilient to future climate changes.

A mix of locally sourced native woodland species are, at the moment, being planted at the western end of the hillside.
A mix of locally sourced native woodland species are, at the moment, being planted at the western end of the hillside.

As soon as they are in the ground, their root systems will begin to grow and develop, binding the hillside over time and reducing the likelihood of landslips.

It is hoped the woodland will also improve the landscape, encourage an increase in biodiversity and improve water quality and riparian habitats, especially those associated with spawning salmonids.

Planting the whole site is expected to take up to five years and natural regeneration of native species will also be encouraged.