Slattadale Forest History 1952
Document is courtesy of Inverness, Ross and Skye Forest District was written up by the local District Officer D Graham-Campbell.
The documents reveal that Slattadale Forest had a very early start in the new Forestry Commission the land being purchased mainly in one lot in 1921 and planting initiated in 1922. Located next to and with some actual islands on Loch Maree the forest land consisted of glacial moraines with areas and pockets of peat overlying nutritionally challenging Torridonian Red Sandstone and Lewisian Gneiss.
The first five years of planting using direct into the ground systems with little or no drainage and certainly no turfing or additional nutrition must have seemed to the foresters looking back over the sites in 1927 a heartbreaking and almost impossible task. Fortunately a visitation by Sir John Stirling Maxwell (of Corrour and Loch Ossian Forest fame) in 1928 seems to have kick started the process a more rigorous approach to intensive draining coupled with turfing and even some additions of fertiliser. From 1929 the massive task of ‘restructuring’ the failed or failing forest areas started in earnest and by 1934 they had honed their technique so that they continued up until the 1940s with new planting but continued going back over the old plantings draining, turfing , fertilising and beating up with hundreds of thousands of trees until they had established a crop that was at least showing some signs of surviving and even putting on some height growth! Visits by Sir Roy Robinson kick started the use of ploughs in 1950 to establish new crops as well as resurrecting some of the early failed plantings.
Of interest also was the frequent use of mixing two or three species of trees together to achieve nursing effects but some of the mixtures species such as European Larch and Scots pine more or less faded away altogether on many of the sites. Undoubtedly the star performers were Lodgepole pine and Sitka spruce with Hybrid and Japanese larch showing their pioneering qualities.
The forest workforce numbered between 6 -12 men continuously with seasonal variations now and again especially when employment relief schemes were in operation. The senior staff and foresters (plus foreman I/C) are listed on Appendix II and include:
Divisional Officers – F Scott, J Fraser, D S Spraggan, A Watt, J T Fitzherbert, J A Dickson.
District Officers – L A Newton, J W Mackay, C J Meldrum, D S Spraggan, Tom A Robbie, Alastair M Fraser, E C Richards, Robert A Innes, D Graham-Campbell.
Foresters and Foremen – K Mackay, G Mackenzie, Danny J Urquhart, A Mackenzie
The section on thinning indicates that by 1952 parts of the forest were in pretty good shape or had grown well enough to thin. Unfortunately as there were no roads and the felled timber was often left in the forest. There was one forest holding, a forester’s house but no tree nursery.
It is quite a story of long term commitment, perseverance with work being redone time and time again. Hopefully some of those who worked there were fortunate to look back in later years and see the attractive forest that they had successfully created.
Any names and stories of people and events in the forest would be very welcome.
Picture added on 06 September 2017 at 08:38