Members of the public had taken to social media asking what was happening to some of the trees around St Ann’s, on the Raehills estate.
Responding, Scottie Johnstone said: “There were to the west of the road, opposite the estate’s office, a number of larch trees in amongst what were quite a random collection of different species and unfortunately we were issued with a plant health notice because those larch trees were infected by Phytophera, which meant we had to take them down.
“When the survey was done in that area quite a few of the trees were found to be rotten inside and presented a hazard to the passing traffic. Therefore we had to clear that area.”
However, he revealed that move then opened up nearby lime trees to the prevailing wind, adding: “With the lack of shelter, that presented a risk to the cottages that people live in beside it, so it was felt prudent to take those down.”
In addition, a softwood confider plantation to the west of the river, which had been there for about 40 years, has also been cleared as it was deemed to be the incorrect species for the area.
Mr Johnstone added: “All of the cleared area is to be re-planted to restore it back to native hardwood and ultimately looking to achieve an ancient woodland.”
Adding more information, Charlotte Cavey-Wilcox said: “The area forms part of the designed landscape for Raehills and is part ancient semi natural woodland. The estate had been forced to fell the old larch trees opposite the estate office and we felt that it made sense to clear the exotic conifers planted within the St Ann’s bridge locality at the same time to enable us to restore the designed landscape and ancient woodland habitat.”
She confirmed some of the old oak trees and granny Scots Pines have been retained and the area will be being replanted with oak and other native hardwoods all from a local seed source.
And she went on: “Whilst it does look a little like a war zone currently, in the longer term the plan will be better for biodiversity, will give better views of the bridge and be safer for passing vehicles.”
All work has been carried out with a felling licence from Scottish Forestry and with the approval of Historic Environment Scotland.