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Jerah Forestry Proposal

Meeting with UPM Tilhill, 17 November 2012

Introduction

Members of the Community Council met personnel from UPM Tilhill, the forestry company, on Saturday 17th November in the Dumyat Centre. Representatives of the Ochils Paragliding Club and Friends of the Ochils were also present.

Presentation by Mr. Andrew Vaughan

link to map of proposed planting, 711 x 978 jpeg |d|
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Andrew Vaughan, UPM Tilhill's District Manager, set out in some detail the plan for a forestry planting scheme around Jerah and Menstrie Glen in the hills above the village. It was the land-owner's intention to turn most of the land to forestry in the face of decreasing returns from sheep-farming and the increasing effort it required. Grazing would probably continue on the highest areas, retained as open ground.

Mr. Vaughan outlined the Scottish government's policy on woodland creation, aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change through carbon capture and timber production. The scheme would also serve to buffer residual burn-side woodland and provide new habitat networks, comprising a mosaic of semi-natural vegetation, broadleaved woodland and open space amongst the productive conifer areas. Elements of the forestry codes of practice and UK Forestry Standard were also covered, including provision for safeguarding public access, archaeology and wider environmental issues. UPM Tilhill had taken great pains over the aesthetic design of the woodland and emphasised that it would not resemble the stark blankets of conifers such as were planted in the 1970's but, instead, provide a wide range of benefits.

For example, the rich archaeological history of Menstrie Glen could form the basis of signposted and interpreted walks. A wider network of access desire lines, paths and tracks would be established to maintain existing user routes and potentially effect a strategic route linking Menstrie with Dunblane. The southern section of the site around Myreton Hill that was either directly visible or immediately accessible from the village would incorporate a design of native broadleaves, mixed woodland (native broadleaves with small groups of mixed conifers) and Scots pine. The community will be further consulted over this area to influence the details of the design including, where practicable, flight lines for paragliding. UPM Tilhill would retain responsibility for management of gorse and maintaining access routes.

Work would not start for about 12 months. Road-building and forestry machinery would access the site exclusively from near the Sheriffmuir Inn in the the north-west, and would not come near Menstrie or Blairlogie villages. The track up from Menstrie would only be used for management and maintenance access on foot or ATV as is currently the case.

The site would mainly be protected by the existing stock-proof fence around the boundary. A deer-proof fence would be installed only around the woodland at Myreton Hill and access routes would be provided with stiles and, in some places, kissing gates and slip gates.

UPM Tilhill had come to hear the opinions of the Community Council, representatives of local residents and hill-goers, with the aim of learning more about patterns of recreational access and use. Their stated aim was to adjust the design and mitigate unwanted effects on the use of the hills and their appearance as seen from the village itself and more distant vantage points such as Dumyat, Tullibody, Stirling and the Sherrifmuir Road.

Recreational uses

The Community Council had suggested modifications to pathways proposed in the first plan, seeking to bring them more into agreement with present routes for hill-walking and -running, while the Paragliding Club made a plea for keeping open customary and safe take-off and emergency landing zones. The Friends of the Ochils' delegate expressed deep unhappiness that, although archaeological items such as the remains of long-abandoned dwellings might remain undisturbed under the plan, the even more interesting patterns of historical cultivation on the hillsides would disappear under the planting. UPM Tilhill had, however, consulted the recently appointed Regional Archaeologist and gained his acceptance for their proposals.

The meeting concluded with UPM Tilhill proposing an open meeting in Menstrie at which their plan, modified in the light of the November meeting, would be put before residents and other interested members of the public.

UPM Tilhill's initial approach, including their map, and the Community Council's first response are available to view on this site.


The open meeting will take place on
Tuesday 18th December from 16.00 to 18.30h in the Dumyat Centre.

20 November 2012

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