Ancient woodlands, natural capital and agroforestry
Around 4,160 hectares of the Estate is managed as woodland. 1,710 hectares of that is on the national Ancient Woodland Inventory indicating that it has been woodland since at least 1750.
The core business activity here is harvesting timber which is used for a variety of purposes from building materials to making pallets and chipboard. The majority of trees used for timber are native Scots pine. Due to the altitude and relatively poor soils, it takes around 110 years for a Scots pine tree to reach maturity and be ready for felling. This compares with only 70 or so years in warmer coastal areas of Scotland. However, this slow growth rate helps to produce a densely-grained timber of excellent quality. Once an area is felled, we allow the ground to settle for a few years to ensure there is no weevil infestation, then the woodland is replanted and the cycle starts again.
Less than half of our woodlands are managed specifically for timber: the remaining woodland is managed for a variety of purposes including agroforestry (providing shelter for livestock), for the Estate’s deer, tourism and for natural capital purposes. As well as our in-house staff, forestry supports a significant number of contractors, too, particularly in the planting and harvesting phases, and we use local timber mills to process the trees.