Loch Arklet View

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Our Campaign

Our Petition

Loch Arklet and its surrounding moorland provide the most stunning view in our part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. This magnificent scenery is under threat of being planted over by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) to become part of the 'Great Trossachs Forest'. FCS's own landscape expert described the eventual outcome as scenery that would look 'semi-natural'.

The present open moorland panorama is particularly worth preserving since Strathard and its surrounding countryside are for the most part already heavily forested, often to the detriment of the visual landscape and scenery. So the unplanted visual panoramas at this location are highly valued by local people, the many tourists who visit the area and also photographers who capture its changing images at all times of day throughout the seasons.

The community is keen that alternative ways to manage the land and control natural regeneration, such as using animal grazing instead of planting trees, be fully explored and used at Loch Arklet, to preserve the views and minimise other natural changes to the environment.

The formal Environmental Impact Assessment and processes for justifying the planting at Loch Arklet have many shortcomings - see the information here.

Please help us 'Save the Loch Arklet View' for future generations by signing our petition here. We can also supply a PDF version if you would like to help by collecting signatures on paper - do just contact us.

About our Campaign

  • Community organisations representing those living at or near to Loch Arklet have been expressing their concerns about plans by FCS to create a forest around the loch since these were issued in late 2007.

  • We were asked in November 2008 by FCS to provide evidence of wider support for leaving Glen Arklet unplanted, in order that a decision could be made just two weeks later. A short extension from two to three weeks was then allowed, and we managed during that period to create this website and also obtain 732 signatures and 217 supportive comments. That signature level has now doubled.

  • It seems that there is pressure to get planting operations underway, and these were in fact started in error in two unapproved areas, see details and photographs here. This has led to a postponement of the decision so our campaign is still very active.

  • We have submitted petition figures and comments, but are continuing to collect these, since the decision has not yet been made, and these are valuable evidence as we move forward, even after any FCS decision.

  • On 27 January 2009 a motion was lodged in The Scottish Parliament supporting our case - see here.

  • Our petition is also addressed to The Scottish Government, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park (LLTTNP) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). All of these bodies have influence in the final decision regarding planting at Loch Arklet, should FCS decide to proceed with the plans. We believe particularly that the National Park is in danger of breaching its basic principles - see our home page and also the information here.

  • National bodies like LLTTNP and SNH pay lip service to conserving scenery and heritage, but have been surprisingly inactive during this process. Both organisations have preferred to support 'concepts', 'strategies' or 'visions' which will result in the loss of this iconic view, rather than actually safeguarding a landscape that every year many thousands of people travel for half an hour along a narrow road to see.

  • Our ability to make formal objections or to influence the Forestry decision is limited - the decision process means that individuals and communities have little effective say in such matters. We would like the public to inform this process and indeed were asked for this backup by FCS.

Help us convince these public bodies that this small amount of planting could so easily be placed elsewhere to safeguard these famous views and the diversity of habitats in our area. Please sign the petition.

Forestry Commission Scotland Proposals

  • In 2005, 9600 hectares of land around Lochs Katrine and Arklet were leased by FCS from Scottish Water at a price of £2 million for 150 years.

  • A scheme was developed to plant trees assisted by substantial funding from BP. This will result initially in 1148 hectares of planting, mostly around Loch Katrine. At Loch Arklet 312 hectares are currently scheduled.

  • The planting by FCS forms part of a larger 'vision' named 'The Great Trossachs Forest', being promoted by the 'Scottish Forest Alliance'. A stated aim by FCS is to 'transform the landscape'. Unsurprisingly it seems that tree planting is at the heart of this 'concept' to supposedly return the landscape to what it was 500 years ago! However there is reputable scientific evidence (including soil sampling) showing Glen Arklet has been relatively treeless since after the last Ice Age.

  • Trees are native species, primarily Scots pine (41%), oak (20%) and alder (20%). Instead of the present moorland panorama which so many local people value, the trees proposed would cover the mid slopes at each side of the loch, as well as at either end.

  • An analysis prepared by FCS suggests that the Loch Arklet landscape without trees on the lower and mid slopes is monotonous. We don't agree - the qualities and benefits of moorland environments are well-recognised as valuable in Scotland, both environmentally and for their natural beauty.

  • Have a look at some FCS graphics of the partially grown new planting after 20-30 years, when the area covered at Loch Arklet would already have increased from 312 to 435 hectares. We have been given a few versions, but essentially these have just moved the proposed trees around or changed their density - none have looked acceptable visually. No matter how much this is described as native woodland it doesn't look natural and we don't believe that the planting enhances the scenery here.

  • It became obvious to us when dialogue with FCS took place during 2008 that this is essentially a project primarily designed to meet tree-planting targets and to access external funding from BP and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

FCS targets should be met by planting elsewhere in a less sensitive location.

Why are we objecting to the Proposals?

  • Firstly can we make it clear that we have no problem with trees - much of our area is covered with them. In fact, when requested by FCS, we dropped our objections to most of the proposed planting scheme and are only asking for FCS to relocate 312 hectares to a less obvious location.

  • To put this in perspective, the land leased from Scottish Water covers 9600 hectares, the Great Trossachs Forest 16,650 hectares and the FCS target for new planting each year is 10,000 hectares.

  • There has been local concern about the scale of Loch Arklet planting since we were provided with details a year ago. Nothing FCS has done during 'consultation' has substantially altered the extent of the proposals for Loch Arklet.

  • We have identified many shortcomings in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIA) prepared by FCS, and in subsequent work by SNH and LLTTNP. who have failed to recognise the distinct qualities of Glen Arklet, and how it differs from Loch Katrine. Loch Arklet has a totally different geological history; also the proposals are for an expansion of the native woodland at Loch Katrine whereas a new forest is to be established at Loch Arklet.

  • Valuable and extensive heather moorland and blanket bog habitats not found elsewhere in our area would be lost at Glen Arklet, with resultant species disruption. Other National Parks and organisations in the UK are striving to protect moorland habitats, but the impact here has not been adequately considered. We are concerned that insufficient work was carried out to identify and classify the specific features and habitats of Glen Arklet, such as heather moorland, blanket bog and quality of the landscape.

  • Nor has justification been given for destroying an existing beneficial 'carbon sink' in favour of planting trees. Why not place the trees in another location currently providing no benefit to the environment, rather than disturbing and draining land and vegetation already performing valuable carbon sequestration. We do not believe Glen Arklet should be destroyed to ‘create native woodland as a testing ground to promote greater understanding of the role of forestry in carbon sequestration’.

  • There have been statements that afforestation will improve 'biodiversity' but the effect of these proposals will mean a reduction in the variety of species thriving in our area, since woodland coverage would replace the moorland environment in Glen Arklet. Woodland species still would have extensive habitats in the many existing forests and at nearby Loch Katrine.

  • The FCS target set by The Scottish Government of 10,000 hectares a year has been mentioned on many occasions as the reason why planting must go ahead at Loch Arklet. Does the Government really wish meeting targets to take precedence over public opinion and safeguarding the environment? Please help us send a clear message by signing the petition.

  • We have been encouraged by feedback from supporters, near and far, who have told us that we must continue our fight to save this iconic and special location. This is one of the most photographed views in Scotland and changes both daily and seasonally - see the Comments and Photography webpages. Tourism and visitors are vital to our local economy and FCS should not be degrading one of the main visitor attractions in this rural area, when this move is not supported by the businesses and communities affected.

  • Over time areas planted will evolve through natural regeneration to become larger and denser. FCS seem to think that because this change will be gradual no-one will notice the transformation to a 'semi-natural' environment. In the short term of course there will be ugly forestry planting, as we saw when digging started in error at East Loch Arklet. However we are most concerned about the longer term.

  • Instead of the present moorland panorama which so many local people value, trees would cover the mid slopes at each side of the loch, as well as part of either end. The current unforested slopes offer a constantly changing panoramic visual impact across the glen, which even FCS have admitted provides an unusual combination of loch, moorland and mountains.

  • The present contrast after miles of forestry planting causes most tourists to stop dead in their tracks to take photographs. The view of Loch Arklet with its surrounding craggy and rugged moorland hillsides framing the Arrochar Alps in the distance has been there for thousands of years - as one of our supporters has said - Who are we to change this scenery? We should protect it!

Please click here to sign our petition to help stop the area around Loch Arklet becoming part of the Great Trossachs Forest.

© Save the Loch Arklet View Campaign 2009

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