Popular forests in Tayside and Fife may not be safe to visit for “months” due to damage caused by Storm Arwen.
Forestry and Land Scotland managers have repeated their weekend plea for walkers, cyclists and other visitors to stay away while workers deal with windblown trees.
They have said a combination of “hanging trees” that have not yet fully fallen, windblown trees and icy conditions mean visitors are potentially risking their lives in woodlands.
Which local forests are affected?
Scottish Government agency FLS is the largest provider of outdoor recreation opportunities in Scotland.
It manages many local woodlands popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers, runners and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Its most visited forests in Tayside and Fife include Balkello, Kinnoull Hill, Tenstmuir and Glen Doll.
Simon Hodgson, FLS chief executive, said his staff started to assess the damage on Monday.
“The combination of windblown trees and icy conditions is hazardous but there is also the risk posed by hanging trees – those that have been blown over but have been caught on standing trees.
“These can be highly unstable and can fall with little or no warning.”
He said windblown trees and damaged roads also prohibit access for emergency vehicles.
“So we are asking members of the public to help us by staying away for the moment.
“We don’t want anyone risking their personal safety – or potentially their life – by venturing in to our forests until such time as we can declare them safe.”
Forest safety could take ‘months’ to achieve
FLS teams warned clearing up the damage “could take months”.
They will prioritise fallen trees at “locations that provide an immediate risk to people or property.”
Their focus then shifts “to providing essential access for communities, neighbours and forestry business.”
Andy Leitch is deputy chief executive of forestry industry body Confor.
He said: “We are aware of damage to forests across large areas of the east coast.
“The scale of the storm means it will take time to clear the damage. We would reiterate the advice to avoid forest walks. Particularly because of the continuing threat from part-fallen trees.”
He added the industry would “pull together” to make popular spots safe as soon as possible.